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UNIVERSITY 

OF  FLORIDA 

LIBRARY 

m 

X^ss|>/ 

COLLEGE  LIBRARY 

Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2013 


http://archive.org/details/designforlivingOOcowa 


DESIGN  FOR  LIVING 


BOOKS  BY 

NOEL  COWARD 

CAVALCADE 

SPANGLED  UNICORN:   AN  ANTHOLOGY 

DESIGN  FOR  LIVING:   A  COMEDY 
IN   THREE   ACTS 

COLLECTED  SKETCHES  AND  LYRICS 

post-mortem:  A  PLAY  IN  EIGHT  SCENES 

PRIVATE  LIVES:  AN  INTIMATE   COMEDY 
IN   THREE   ACTS 

BITTER   SWEET  AND   OTHER  PLAYS 

THE  PLAYS   OF  NOEL  COWARD 


NOEL  COWARD 
DESIGN  FOR  LIVING 

A  Comedy  in  Three  Acts 


Garden  City,  New  York 
Doubleday,  Doran  and  Company,  Inc. 

MCMXXXIII 


printed  at  the  Country  Life  Ptess,  garden  c i t y,  n.  y.,  u.  s.  a. 


COPYRIGHT,     1932,     lyjj 

BY  NOEL    COWARD 

ALL  RIGHTS  RESERVED 


c 


-3 


To 
ALEXANDER    WOOLLCOTT 


ERRATUM 

Applications  regarding  performing  rights 
should  be  addressed  to  the  author,  care  of 
the  publishers. 


S:l349 


ACT  ONE     . 

Otto's  Studio  in  Paris. 

ACT  TWO 

Scene     I — Leo's  Flat  in  London.     {Eighteen  months 

later.) 

Scene    II — The  Same.  {A  few  days  later) 

Scene  III — The  Same.  {The  next  morning) 

ACT  THREE 

Scene     I — Ernest's  Apartment  in  New  York.     {Two 
years  later) 

Scene   II — The  Same.     {The  next  morning) 
Time:  The  Present 


CHARACTERS 

GlLDA 

Otto 
Leo 

Ernest  Friedman 
Miss  Hodge 
Mr.  Btrbeck 
Henry  Carver 
Helen  Carver 
Grace  Torrence 
Matthew 


ACT  ONE 


ACT  ONE:  Scene  I 

The  scene  is  rather  a  shabby  studio  in  Paris.  There  is 
a  large  window  at  the  back  looking  out  onto  roof  tops. 
Down  stage j  on  the  Left,  there  is  a  door  leading  onto  the 
stairs f  which  in  turn  lead  to  the  street.  Up  stage,  on 
the  Right f  there  is  a  door  leading  into  a  small  kitchen. 
When  the  curtain  rises,  it  is  about  ten  o'clock  on 
a  spring  morning,  and  the  studio  is  empty.  Gilda 
comes  in  from  the  kitchen  carrying  a  coffee  pot  and  a 
milk  jug.  She  places  them  on  a  table  just  under  the 
window,  which  is  already  laid  with  cups  and  plates, 
etc.  Gilda  is  a  good-looking  woman  of  about  thirty. 
Suddenly  there  is  a  knock  on  the  door  Left.  She 
gives  a  quick  glance  towards  it,  and  then  goes  swiftly 
and  silently  into  the  bedroom.  In  a  moment  she  re- 
turns, closing  the  bedroom  door  carefully  behind  her. 
There  is  another  knock  on  the  door.  She  opens  it, 
admitting  Ernest  Friedman.  He  is  any  age  be- 
tween forty  and  fifty,  rather  precise  in  manner.  He 
carries  a  large  package,  obviously  a  picture,  done  up  in 
brown  paper. 

Gilda:  Ernest! 
Ernest:  May  I  come  in? 
Gilda:  I'd  no  idea  you  were  back. 
Ernest:  I  arrived  last  night. 

He  comes  in  and  puts  down  the  package. 

\3\ 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  What's  that? 

Ernest:  Something  exquisite,  superb. 

Gilda:  The  Matisse? 

Ernest:  Yes. 

Gilda:  You  got  it,  after  all. 

Ernest:  It's  unbelievable. 

Gilda:  Undo  it  quickly! 

Ernest:  Otto  must  see  it,  too. 

Gilda:  He's  asleep. 

Ernest:  Wake  him  up,  then. 

Gilda:  Not  now,  Ernest;  he's  had  the  most  awful 
neuralgia  all  night. 

Ernest:  Neuralgia? 

Gilda:  Yes;  all  up  one  side  of  his  face  and  down  the 
other  side. 

Ernest  {undoing  the  package):  Wake  him  up.  One 
look  at  this  will  take  away  his  neuralgia  immediately. 

Gilda:  No,  really.  He's  only  just  dropped  off.  He's 
been  in  agony.  I've  dosed  him  with  aspirin  and  given 
him  a  hot-water  bottle  here,  and  another  one  just 
there 

Ernest  {petulantly):  I  didn't  know  anyone  had  so 
many  hot-water  bottles. 

Gilda:  I  still  have  one  more,  in  case  it  spreads. 

Ernest:  It  really  is  very  irritating.  I  take  the 
trouble  to  drag  this  large  picture  all  the  way  round  here 
and  Otto  chooses  to  have  neuralgia. 

Gilda:  He  didn't  choose  to  have  it.  He  hated  having 
it.    His  little  face  is  all  pinched  and  strained. 

Ernest:  Otto's  face  is  enormous. 

Gilda:  Show  me  the  picture,  Ernest,  and  try  not  to  be 
disagreeable. 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Ernest  (grumbling) :  It's  an  anticlimax. 
Gilda:  Thank  you,  dear. 

Ernest:  It's  no  use  pretending  to  be  hurt.    You 
know  you  don't  really  care  for  anybody's  pictures  except 
Otto's. 
Gilda:  Do  you  want  some  coffee? 

Ernest:  Why  are  there  two  cups,  if  Otto  has  neural- 
gia? 

Gilda:  Habit.    There  are  always  two  cups. 

Ernest  (propping  up  the  picture,  facing  up  stage): 
There! 

Gilda  (scrutinizing  it) :  Yes,  it's  good. 

Ernest:  Stand  further  back. 

Gilda  (obliging) :  Very  good  indeed.    How  much? 

Ernest:  Eight  hundred  pounds. 

Gilda:  Did  you  bargain? 

Ernest:  No,  that  was  their  price. 

Gilda:  I  think  you  were  right.    Dealers  or  private 
owners? 

Ernest:  Dealers. 

Gilda:  Here's  your  coffee. 

Ernest  (taking  the  cup  and  still  looking  at  the  picture) : 
It's  strangely  unlike  all  the  other  work,  isn't  it? 

Gilda:  What  are  you  going  to  do  with  it? 

Ernest:  Wait  a  little. 

Gilda:  And  then  resell? 

Ernest:  I  expect  so. 

Gilda:  It  will  need  a  room  to  itself. 

Ernest:  None  of  your  decorating  schemes.    Hands 
off! 

Gilda:  Don't  you  think  I'm  a  good  decorator? 
Ernest:  Not  particularly. 

[5] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  Darling  Ernest! 

Ernest  (back  at  the  picture):  Otto  will  go  mad  when 
he  sees  it. 

Gilda:  You  think  Otto's  good,  don't  you?  You 
think  he's  all  right? 

Ernest:  Coming  along.     Coming  along  very  nicely. 

Gilda:  Better  than  that.    Much  better! 

Ernest:  Lady  Jaguar,  defending  her  young! 

Gilda:  Otto  isn't  my  young. 

Ernest:  Oh,  yes,  he  is.    Otto's  everybody's  young. 

Gilda:  You  think  he's  weak,  don't  you? 

Ernest:  Certainly,  I  do. 

Gilda:  And  that  I'm  strong? 

Ernest:  Strong  as  an  ox! 

Gilda:  You've  called  me  a  jaguar  and  an  ox  within 
the  last  two  minutes.  I  wish  you  wouldn't  be  quite  so 
zoological. 

Ernest:  A  temperamental  ox,  Gilda.  Sometimes  a 
hysterical  ox;  and,  at  the  moment,  an  over- vehement  ox  J 
What's  the  matter  with  you  this  morning? 

Gilda:  The  matter  with  me? 

Ernest:  There's  a  wild  gleam  in  your  eye. 

Gilda:  There  always  is.  It's  one  of  my  greatest 
charms!  I'm  surprised  that  you  never  noticed  it 
before. 

Ernest:  The  years  are  creeping  on  me,  Gilda.  Per- 
haps my  perceptions  are  getting  dulled. 

Gilda  (absently) :  Perhaps  they  are. 

Ernest:  If,  in  my  dotage,  I  become  a  bore  to  you,  you 
won't  scruple  to  let  me  know,  will  you? 

Gilda:  Don't  be  an  idiot! 

Ernest  (ruminatively) :  Perhaps  it  was  wrong  of  me  to 

16] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

» 

arrive  unexpectedly;  I  should  have  written  you  a  little 
note  making  an  appointment. 

Gilda:  Be  a  nice  bluebottle  and  stop  buzzing  at  me, 
will  you? 

Ernest:  You're  a  striking-looking  woman — particu- 
larly when  a  little  distrait.  It's  a  pity  Otto's  paintings  of 
you  have  always  been  so  tranquil.  He's  missed  some- 
thing. 

Gilda:  The  next  time  he  paints  me,  you  must  be  here 
to  lash  me  with  gay  witticisms. 

Ernest:  Surely,  in  my  r61e  of  bitter  old  family  friend, 
I  can  demand  a  little  confidence!  You  could  tell  me 
quite  safely,  you  know,  if  anything's  wrong.  I  might 
even  be  able  to  help,  with  a  senile  word  or  two. 

Gilda:  Nothing  is  wrong,  I  tell  you. 

Ernest:  Nothing  at  all? 

Gilda:  Shall  I  make  you  some  toast? 

Ernest:  No,  thank  you. 

Gilda:  It's  very  hot  today,  isn't  it? 

Ernest:  Why  not  open  the  window? 

Gilda:  I  never  thought  of  it. 

She  opens  the  window  almost  violently. 
There! — I'm  sick  of  this  studio;  it's  squalid!  I  wish  I 
were  somewhere  quite  different.  I  wish  I  were  some- 
body quite  different.  I  wish  I  were  a  nice-minded  British 
matron,  with  a  husband,  a  cook,  and  a  baby.  I  wish  I 
believed  in  God  and  the  Daily  Mail  and  "Mother 
India"! 

Ernest:  I  wish  you'd  tell  me  what's  upsetting 
you. 

Gilda:  Glands,  I  expect.  Everything's  glandular. 
I  read  a  book  about  it  the  other  day.    Ernest,  if  you 

m 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

only  realized  what  was  going  on  inside  you,  you'd  be 
bitterly  offended! 

Ernest:  I'm  much  more  interested  in  what's  going  on 
inside  you. 

Gilda:  I'll  tell  you.  All  the  hormones  in  my  blood 
are  working  overtime.  They're  rushing  madly  in  and 
out  of  my  organs  like  messenger  boys. 

Ernest:  Why? 

Gilda:  Perhaps  it's  a  sort  of  presentiment. 

Ernest:  Psychic.    I  see.    Well,  well,  well! 

Gilda:  Yes,  I  hear  voices.  I  hear  my  own  voice 
louder  than  any  of  the  others,  and  it's  beginning  to  bore 
me.    Would  you  describe  me  as  a  super-egoist,  Ernest? 

Ernest:  Yes,  dear. 

Gilda:  Thinking  of  myself  too  much,  and  not  enough 
of  other  people? 

Ernest:  No.  Thinking  of  other  people  too  much 
through  yourself. 

Gilda:  How  can  anyone  do  otherwise? 

Ernest:  Detachment  of  mind. 

Gilda:  I  haven't  got  that  sort  of  mind. 

Ernest:  It's  an  acquired  attitude  and  difficult  to 
achieve,  but,  believe  me,  well  worth  trying  for. 

Gilda:  Are  you  presenting  yourself  as  a  shining  ex- 
ample? 

Ernest:  Not  shining,  my  dear,  just  dully  effulgent. 

Gilda:  How  should  I  start?  Go  away  alone  with  my 
thoughts? 

Ernest:  With  all  my  detachment  I  find  it  very 
difficult  to  regard  your  painful  twistings  and  turnings 
with  composure. 

Gilda:  Why? 

[8] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Ernest  (blandly) :  Because  I'm  very  fond  of  you. 

Gilda:  Why? 

Ernest:  I  don't  know.  A  tedious  habit,  I  suppose. 
After  all,  I  was  very  attached  to  your  mother. 

Gilda:  Yes,  I  know.  Personally,  I  never  cared  for 
her  very  much.    A  bossy  woman. 

Ernest:  I  don't  think  you  should  allude  to  the  dead  as 
"bossy." 

Gilda:  No  reverence.  That's  my  trouble.  No  rever- 
ence* 

Ernest:  I  feel  vaguely  paternal  towards  you. 

Gilda:  Yes,  Ernest. 

Ernest:  And  your  behaviour  confuses  me. 

Gilda:  My  painful  twistings  and  turnings. 

Ernest:  Exactly. 

Gilda:  What  did  you  mean  by  that? 

Ernest:  Will  you  explain  one  thing  to  me  really  satis- 
factorily? 

Gilda:  What? 

Ernest:  Why  don't  you  marry  Otto? 

Gilda:  It's  very  funny  that  underneath  all  your 
worldly  wisdom  you're  nothing  but  a  respectable  little 
old  woman  in  a  jet  bonnet. 

Ernest:  You  don't  like  being  disapproved  of,  do  you? 

Gilda:  Does  anybody? 

Ernest:  Anyhow,  I  don't  disapprove  of  you,  yourself 
— of  course,  you're  as  obstinate  as  a  mule 

Gilda:  There  you  go  again!  "Strong  as  an  ox!" 
"Obstinate  as  a  mule!"  Just  a  pack  of  Animal  Grab — 
that's  what  I  am !  Bring  out  all  the  other  cards.  "  Gentle 
as  a  dove!"  "Playful  as  a  kitten!"  "Black  as  a 
crow!" 


Act  i              DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Ernest:  u Brave  as  a  lion!" 


Gilda:  Oh,  no,  Ernest!  You  couldn't  think  that, 
disapproving  of  me  as  you  do. 

Ernest:  I  was  about  to  explain,  when  you  so  rudely 
interrupted,  that  it  isn't  you,  yourself,  I  disapprove  of. 
It's  your  mode  of  life. 

Gilda  {laughing  slightly) :  Oh,  I  see ! 

Ernest:  Your  life  is  so  dreadfully  untidy,  Gilda. 

Gilda:  I'm  not  a  tidy  person. 

Ernest:  You  haven't  yet  answered  my  original  ques- 
tion. 

Gilda:  Why  I  don't  marry  Otto? 

Ernest:  Yes.  Is  there  a  real  reason,  or  just  a  lot  of 
faintly  affected  theories? 

Gilda:  There's  a  very  real  reason. 

Ernest:  Well? 

Gilda:  I  love  him.  (She  glances  towards  the  bedroom 
door  and  says  louder) :  I  love  him. 

Ernest  :  All  right !    All  right,  there's  no  need  to  shout. 

Gilda:  Yes,  there  is,  every  need.  ■  I  should  like  to 
scream. 

Ernest:  That  would  surely  be  very  bad  for  Otto's 
neuralgia. 

Gilda  (calming  down):  The  only  reasons  for  me  to 
marry  would  be  these:  To  have  children;  to  have  a 
home;  to  have  a  background  for  social  activities,  and  to 
be  provided  for.  Well,  I  don't  like  children;  I  don't 
wish  for  a  home;  I  can't  bear  social  activities,  and  I  have 
a  small  but  adequate  income  of  my  own.  I  love  Otto 
deeply,  and  I  respect  him  as  a  person  and  as  an  artist. 
To  be  tied  legally  to  him  would  be  repellent  to  me  and  to 
him,  too.    It's  not  a  dashing  bohemian  gesture  to  Free 

[10] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Love:  we  just  feel  like  that,  both  of  us.  Now,  are  you 
satisfied? 

Ernest:  If  you  are. 

Gilda:  You're  impossible,  Ernest.  You  sit  there 
looking  quizzical,  and  it  maddens  me! 

Ernest:  I  am  quizzical. 

Gilda:  Well,  be  something  else,  for  God's  sake! 

Ernest  :  I  suppose  you  know  Leo  is  back? 

Gilda  (Jumping  slightly) :  What? 

Ernest:  I  said,  "I  suppose  you  know  Leo  is  back?" 

Gilda  (tremendously  astonished) :  It's  not  true! 

Ernest:  Didn't  he  let  you  know? 

Gilda  (eagerly):  When  did  he  arrive?  Where's  he 
staying? 

Ernest:  He  arrived  yesterday  on  the  Mauretania. 
I  had  a  note  from  him  last  night. 

Gilda:  Where's  he  staying? 

Ernest:  You'll  be  shocked  when  I  tell  you. 

Gilda  :  Quickly ! — Quickly ! 

Ernest:  The  George  V. 

Gilda  (going  of  into  peals  of  laughter) :  He  must  be 
raving!  The  George  V!  Oh,  dear,  oh,  dear!  Leo,  at 
the  George  V!  It's  a  glorious  picture.  Marble  bath- 
rooms and  private  balconies!  Leo  in  all  that  grandeur! 
It  isn't  possible. 

Ernest:  I  gather  he's  made  a  good  deal  of  money. 

Gilda:  That's  not  enough  excuse.  He  ought  to  be 
ashamed  of  himself! 

Ernest:  I  can't  understand  him,  not  letting  you  know 
he  was  back.    I  fully  expected  to  find  him  here. 

Gilda:  He'll  appear  sooner  or  later. 

Ernest:  Are  you  glad  he's  made  money? 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  Why  do  you  ask  that? 

Ernest:  Curiosity. 

Gilda:  Of  course  I'm  glad.    I  adore  Leo! 

Ernest:  And  Otto?    What  about  Otto? 

Gilda  (irritably):  What  do  you  mean,  "What  about 
Otto?" 

Ernest:  Will  he  be  glad,  too? 

Gilda:  You're  too  ridiculous  sometimes,  Ernest. 
What  are  you  suspecting?  What  are  you  trying  to  find 
out? 

Ernest:  Nothing.     I  was  only  wondering. 

Gilda:  It's  all  right.  I  know  what  you're  getting  at; 
but  you're  wrong  as  usual.  Everybody's  always  wrong 
about  Leo  and  Otto  and  me.  I'm  not  jealous  of  Leo's 
money  and  success,  and  Otto  won't  be  either  when  he 
knows.    That's  what  you  were  suspecting,  wasn't  it? 

Ernest:  Perhaps. 

Gilda  (turning  away):  I  think  you  should  grasp  the 
situation  a  little  better,  having  known  us  all  for  so  long. 

Ernest:  Otto  and  Leo  knew  each  other  first. 

Gilda:  Yes,  yes,  yes,  yes — I  know  all  about  that!  I 
came  along  and  spoilt  everything!    Go  on,  dear 

Ernest:  I  didn't  say  that. 

Gilda  (sharply) :  It's  what  you  meant. 

Ernest:  I  think,  perhaps,  you  may  have  spoilt  your- 
self a  little. 

Gilda:  Distrust  of  women  frequently  sets  in  at  your 
age,  Ernest. 

Ernest:  I  cannot,  for  the  life  of  me,  imagine  why  I'm 
so  fond  of  you.    You  have  such  abominable  manners. 

Gilda:  It's  probably  the  scarlet  life  I  live,  causing 
me  to  degenerate  into  a  shrew. 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Ernest:  Very  likely. ' 

Gilda  {suddenly,  leaning  over  the  hack  of  his  chair,  with 
her  arms  around  him)'.  I'm  sorry — about  my  bad  man- 
ners, I  mean.  Please  forgive  me.  You're  a  darling,  and 
you  love  us  a  lot,  don't  you?  All  three, of  us?  Me  a 
little  less  than  Otto  and  Leo  because  I'm  a  woman  and, 
therefore,  unreliable.    Isn't  that  true? 

Ernest  (patting  her  hand) :  Quite. 

Gilda  {leaving  him) :  Your  affection  is  a  scared  thing, 
though.  Too  frightened;  too  apprehensive  of  conse- 
quences. Leave  us  to  grapple  with  the  consequences, 
my  dear.  We're  bound  to  have  a  bad  time  every  now 
and  then,  but,  at  least,  we  know  it.  We're  aware  of  a 
whole  lot  of  things.  Look  at  us  clearly  as  human  beings, 
rather  peculiar  human  beings,  I  grant  you,  and  don't  be 
prejudiced  by  our  lack  of  social  grace.  I  laughed  too 
loudly  just  now  at  the  thought  of  Leo  being  rich  and  rare. 
Too  loudly  because  I  was  uneasy,  not  jealous.  I  don't 
want  him  to  be  any  different,  that's  all. 

Ernest:  I  see. 

Gilda:  Do  you?  Do  you  really?  I  doubt  it.  I 
don't  see  how  anyone  outside  could.  But  I  would  like 
you  to  understand  one  thing  absolutely  and  completely. 
I  love  Otto — whatever  happens,  I  love  Otto. 

Ernest:  I  never  suggested  for  a  moment  that  you  didn't. 

Gilda:  Wait.  Wait  and  see.  The  immediate  horizon 
is  grey  and  forbidding  and  dangerous.  You  don't  know 
what  I'm  talking  about  and  you  probably  think  I've  gone 
mad,  and  I  can't  explain — not  now.  But,  darling  Ernest, 
there's  a  crisis  on.  A  full-blooded,  emotional  crisis;  and 
when  I  need  you,  which  I  expect  will  be  very  soon,  I  shall 
yell  I    I  shall  yell  like  mad! 

us] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Ernest:  I  knew  you  were  in  a  state  about  some- 
thing. 

Gilda:  Nasty  shrewd  little  instincts  shooting  out  and 
discovering  things  lurking  in  the  atmosphere.  It's 
funny  about  atmosphere,  isn't  it?  Strong  inside  thoughts 
make  outside  impressions.  Imprints  on  the  ether.  A 
horrid  sort  of  spiritual  television. 

Ernest:  Quite. 

Gilda:  Well,  are  you  satisfied  now?  You  felt  some- 
thing was  the  matter,  and  you  were  right.  It's  always 
pleasant  to  be  right,  isn't  it? 

Ernest:  Not  by  any  means. 

Gilda:  You're  right  about  something  else,  too. 

Ernest:  What? 

Gilda:  Women  being  unreliable.  There  are  moments 
in  life  when  I  look  upon  my  own  damned  femininity  with 
complete  nausea.    There! 

Ernest  (smiling):  Good! 

Gilda:  I  don't  like  women  at  all,  Ernest;  and  I  like 
myself  least  of  any  of  them. 

Ernest:  Never  mind. 

Gilda:  I  do  mind.  I  mind  bitterly.  It  humiliates 
me  to  the  dust  to  think  that  I  can  go  so  far,  clearly  and  in- 
telligently, keeping  faith  with  my  own  standards — which 
are  not  female  standards  at  all — preserving  a  certain 
decent  integrity,  not  using  any  tricks;  then,  suddenly, 
something  happens,  a  spark  is  struck  and  down  I  go  into 
the  mud!  Squirming  with  archness,  being  aloof  and 
desirable,  consciously  alluring,  snatching  and  grabbing, 
evading  and  surrendering,  dressed  and  painted  for 
victory.    An  object  of  strange  contempt ! 

Ernest:  A  lurid  picture,  perhaps  a  trifle  exaggerated. 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  I  wish  it  were.    I  wish  it  were 

Ernest:  Drink  a  little  coffee. 

Gilda:  Perhaps  you're  right. 
She  sits  down  suddenly. 

Ernest  (pouring  it  out):  There! 

Gilda:  Thank  you,  Ernest.    You're  a  great  comfort. 
She  sips  a  little. 
It's  not  very  nice,  is  it? 

Ernest:  Disgusting! 

Gilda:  I  must  have  burnt  it. 

Ernest:  You  did,  dear. 

Gilda:  How  lovely  to  be  you! 

Ernest:  In  heaven's  name,  why? 

Gilda:  You're  a  permanent  spectator.  You  deal  in 
pictures.  You  look  at  pictures  all  day  long,  good  pic- 
tures and  bad  pictures;  gay  pictures  and  gloomy  pictures, 
and  you  know  why  they're  this  or  why  they're  that, 
because  you're  critical  and  knowledgeable  and  wise. 
You're  a  clever  little  dear,  that's  what  you  are — a  clever 
little  dear! 

She  begins  to  laugh  again. 

Ernest:  Gilda,  stop  it!  / 

Gilda:  Take  a  look  at  this,  my  darling.  Measure  it 
with  your  eyes.  Portrait  of  a  woman  in  three  cardinal 
colours.  Portrait  of  a  too  loving  spirit  tied  down  to  a 
predatory  feminine  carcass. 

Ernest:  This  is  definitely  macabre. 

Gilda:  Right,  again! 

Ernest:  I  think  I'd  better  go.  You  ought  to  lie  down 
or  something. 

Gilda  {hysterically):  Stay  a  little  longer,  you'll  find 
out  so  much. 

Us) 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Ernest:  I  don't  want  to  find  out  anything.  You're 
scaring  me  to  death. 

Gilda:  Courage,  Ernest.  Be  brave.  Look  at  the 
whole  thing  as  a  side  show.  People  pay  to  see  freaks. 
Walk  up!  Walk  up  and  see  the  Fat  Lady  and  the 
Monkey  Man  and  the  Living  Skeleton  and  the  Three 
Famous  Hermaphrodites ! — ■ — 

There  is  a  noise  outside  in  the  passage.  The  door 
bursts  open,  and  Otto  fairly  bounds  into  the  room. 
He  is  tall  and  good-looking,  wearing  a  travelling  coat 
and  hat,  and  carrying  a  suitcase  and  a  large  package  oj 
painting  materials. 

Gilda:  Otto! 

Otto  (striking  an  attitude) :  I've  come  home ! 

Gilda:  You  see  what  happens  when  I  crack  the  whip! 

Otto:  Little  Ernest!    How  very  sweet  to  see  you! 
He  kisses  him. 

Gilda:  When  did  you  leave  Bordeaux? 

Otto:  Night  train,  dear  heart. 

Gilda:  Why  didn't  you  telegraph? 

Otto:  I  don't  hold  with  these  modern  innovations. 

Ernest:  This  is  very  interesting. 

Otto:  What's  very  interesting? 

Ernest:  Life,  Otto.  I  was  just  meditating  upon 
Life. 

Otto  (to  Gilda)  :  I've  finished  the  picture. 

Gilda:  Really?     Completely  finished  it? 

Otto:  Yes,  it's  fine.  I  brought  it  away  with  me.  I 
made  the  old  fool  sit  for  hours  and  wouldn't  let  her  see, 
and  afterwards  when  she  did  she  made  the  most  awful 
scene.  She  said  it  was  out  of  drawing  and  made  her  look 
podgy;  then  I  lost  my  temper  and  said  it  was  overeating 

[rf] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

and  lack  of  exercise  that  made  her  look  podgy,  and  that 
it  was  not  only  an  exquisite  painting  but  unfalteringly 
true  to  life.  Then  she  practically  ordered  me  out  of  the 
house!  I  don't  suppose  she'll  ever  pay  me  the  rest  of 
the  money,  but  to  hell  with  her!  If  she  doesn't,  I  shall 
have  the  picture. 

Ernest:  Unwise,  but,  I  am  sure,  enjoyable. 
There  is  silence. 

Otto:  Well? 

Gilda:  Well  what? 

Otto:  What  on  earth's  the  matter? 

Gilda:  Why  should  you  think  anything's  the  matter? 

Otto  {looking  from  one  to  the  other) :  Have  your  faces 
lit  up?  No.  Have  you  rushed  at  me  with  outstretched 
arms?  No.  Are  you,  either  of  you,  even  remotely 
pleased  to  see  me?  Obviously  NO!  Something  dread- 
ful has  happened  and  you're  trying  to  decide  how  to 
break  the  news  to  me.  What  is  it?  Tell  me  at  once! 
What's  the  matter? 

Ernest  (with  slight  malice) :  Gilda  has  neuralgia. 

Otto:  Nonsense!    She's  as  strong  as  a  horse. 

Gilda  (laughing  wildly):  Oh,  my  God! 

Otto  (to  Ernest):  What's  she  "Oh,  my  God-ing" 
about? 

Ernest:  It's  glandular.    Everything's  glandular. 

Otto:  Have  you  both  gone  mad? 

Gilda:  Don't  take  off  your  coat  and  hat. 

Otto:  What? 

Gilda  (very  slowly  and  distinctly):  I  said,  "Don't  take 
off  your  coat  and  hat." 

Otto  (humouring  her) :  Very  well,  darling,  I  won't,  I 
promise  you.    As  a  matter  of  fact,  I  said  to  myself  only 

[I7\ 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

this  morning,  "Otto,"  I  said,  "Otto,  you  must  never, 
never  be  parted  from  your  coat  and  hat!  Never,  never, 
never!" 

Gilda:  There's  a  surprise  for  you,  darling.  A  beauti- 
ful surprise! 

Otto:  What? 

Gilda:  You  must  go  to  the  George  V  at  once. 

Otto:  The  George  V? 

Gilda:  Yes.    That's  the  surprise. 

Otto:  Who  is  it?    Who's  at  the  George  V? 

Gilda:  Leo. 

Otto:  You're  not  serious?    He  couldn't  be. 

Gilda:  He  is.  He  came  back  on  the  Mauretania. 
His  play  is  still  running  in  Chicago,  and  he's  sold  the 
movie  rights  and  he's  made  thousands! 

Otto  :  Have  you  seen  him? 

Gilda:  Of  course!    Last  night. 

.Ernest:  Well,  I'm  damned! 

Gilda:  I  told  you  you  didn't  understand,  Ernest. 
(To  Otto)  :  If  you'd  only  let  me  know  you  were  coming, 
we  could  have  both  met  you  at  the  station.  It  would 
have  been  so  lovely !  Leo  will  be  furious.  You  must  go 
to  him  at  once  and  bring  him  back  here  and  we'll  make 
some  sort  of  a  plan  for  the  day. 

Otto:  This  is  good,  good,  better  than  good!  An  ex- 
cellent, super  homecoming!  I  was  thinking  of  him  last 
night,  bumping  along  in  that  awful  train.  I  thought  of 
him  for  hours,  I  swear  I  did.  Cross  my  hand  with  silver, 
lady,  I'm  so  definitely  the  Gipsy  Queen!  Oh,  God,  how 
marvellous!    He'll  be  able  to  go  to  Annecy  with  us. 

Gilda:  He's  got  to  go  back  to  New  York,  and  then  to 
London. 

US] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Otto:  Splendid!    We'll   go    with    him.    He's    been 

away  far  too  long.    Come  on 

He  seizes  Gilda's  hand. 

Gilda:  No. 

Ernest:  What  are  you  going  to  do? 

Gilda:  Stay  here  and  tidy  up.  You  go  with  Otto  to 
fetch  Leo.  You  said  my  life  was  untidy,  didn't  you? 
Well,  I'm  taking  it  to  heart! 

Otto:  Come  on,  Gilda;  it  doesn't  matter  about  tidying 
up. 

Gilda:  Yes,  it  does.  It  does!  It's  the  most  impor- 
tant thing  in  the  world — an  orderly  mind;  that's  the  thing 
to  have. 

Otto:  He's  probably  brought  us  presents,  and  if  he's 
rich  they'll  be  expensive  presents.  Very  nice!  Very 
nice,  indeed.  Come  along,  Ernest,  my  little  honey — 
we'll  take  a  taxi. 

Ernest:  I  don't  think  I'll  go. 

Otto:  You  must.  He  likes  seeing  you  almost  as 
much  as  us.    Come  on! 

He  grabs  Ernest  by  the  shoulders  and  shoves  him 
towards  the  door. 

Gilda:  Of  course,  go,  Ernest,  and  come  back  too  and 
we'll  all  celebrate.  I'm  yelling!  Can't  you  hear  me 
yelling  like  mad? 

Otto:  What  on  earth  are  you  talking  about? 

Gilda:  A  bad  joke,  and  very  difficult  to  explain. 

Otto:  Good-morning,  darling!  I  never  kissed  you 
good-morning. 

Gilda:  Never  mind  about  that  now.  Go  on,  both  of 
you,  or  he'll  have  gone  out.  You  don't  want  to  miss 
him. 

Up] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Otto  {firmly  kissing  her) :  Good-morning,  darling. 

Gilda  {suddenly  stiffening  in  his  arms) :  Dearest 

Otto  and  Ernest  go  to  the  door. 

Gilda  {suddenly):  Otto ' 

Otto  {turning) :  Yes? 

Gilda  {smiling  gaily,  but  with  a  slight  strain  in  her 
voice) :  I  love  you  very  much,  so  be  careful  crossing  roads, 
won't  you?  Look  to  the  right  and  the  left  and  all  around 
everything,  and  don't  do  anything  foolish  and  impulsive. 

Please  remember,  there's  a  dear 

Otto:  Be  quiet,  don't  pester  me  with  your  attentions! 
{To  Ernest  as  they  go  out) :  She's  crazy  about  me,  poor 
little  thing;  just  crazy  about  me. 

They  go  out.     Gilda  stands  quite  still  for  a  moment 
or  two  staring  after  them;  then  she  sits  down  at  a  table. 
Leo  comes  out  of  the  bedroom.    He  is  thin  and  nervous 
and  obviously  making  a  tremendous  effort  to  control 
'  himself.    He  walks  about  aimlessly  for  a  little  and 
finishes  up  looking  out  of  the  window,  with  his  back  to 
Gilda. 
Leo:  What  now? 
Gilda:  I  don't  know. 
Leo:  Not  much  time  to  think. 
Gilda:  A  few  minutes. 
Leo:  Are  there  any  cigarettes? 
Gilda:  Yes,  in  that  box. 
Leo:  Want  one? 
Gilda:  No. 

Leo  {lighting  one) :  It's  nice  being  human  beings,  isn't 
it?    I'm  sure  God's  angels  must  envy  us. 

Gilda:  Whom  do  you  love  best?    Otto  or  me? 
Leo:  Silly  question. 

[20] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  Answer  me,  anyhow. 

Leo:  How  can  I?  Be  sensible!  In  any  case,  what 
does  it  matter? 

Gilda:  It's  important  to  me. 

Leo:  No,  it  isn't — not  really.  That's  not  what's 
important.  What  we  did  was  inevitable.  It's  been 
inevitable  for  years.  It  doesn't  matter  who  loves  who 
the  most;  you  can't  line  up  things  like  that  mathemati- 
cally. We  all  love  each  other  a  lot,  far  too  much,  and 
we've  made  a  bloody  mess  of  it!  That  was  inevitable, 
too. 

Gilda:  We  must  get  it  straight,  somehow. 

Leo:  Yes,  we  must  get  it  straight  and  tie  it  up  with 
ribbons  with  a  bow  on  the  top.  Pity  it  isn't  Valentine's 
Day! 

Gilda:  Can't  we  laugh  a  little?  Isn't  it  a  joke? 
Can't  we  make  it  a  joke? 

Leo:  Yes,  it's  a  joke.  It's  a  joke,  all  right.  We  can 
laugh  until  our  sides  ache.    Let's  start,  shall  we? 

Gilda:  What's  the  truth  of  it?  The  absolute,  deep- 
down  truth?  Until  we  really  know  that,  we  can't  grap- 
ple with  it.  We  can't  do  a  thing.  We  can  only  sit  here 
flicking  words  about. 

Leo:  It  should  be  easy,  you  know.  The  actual  facts 
are  so  simple.  I  love  you.  You  love  me.  You  love 
Otto.  I  love  Otto.  Otto  loves  you.  Otto  loves  me. 
There  now!    Start  to  unravel  from  there. 

Gilda:  We've  always  been  honest,  though,  all  of  us. 
Honest  with  each  other,  I  mean.  That's  something  to 
go  on,  isn't  it? 

Leo:  In  this  particular  instance,  it  makes  the  whole 
thing  far  more  complicated.    If  we  were  ordinary  moral, 

[21] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

high-thinking  citizens  we  could  carry  on  a  backstairs 
affair  for  weeks  without  saying  a  word  about  it.  We 
could  lunch  and  dine  together,  all  three,  and  not  give 
anything  away  by  so  much  as  a  look. 

Gilda:  If  we  were  ordinary  moral,  high-thinking 
citizens  we  shouldn't  have  had  an  affair  at  all. 

Leo:  Perhaps  not.  We  should  have  crushed  it  down. 
And  the  more  we  crushed  it  down  the  more  we  should 
have  resented  Otto,  until  we  hated  him.  Just  think  of 
hating  Otto 

Gilda:  Just  think  of  him  hating  us. 

Leo:  Do  you  think  he  will? 

Gilda  (inexorably):  Yes. 

Leo  (walking  about  the  room) :  Oh,  no,  no — he  mustn't! 
It's  too  silly.  He  must  see  how  unimportant  it  is, 
really. 

Gilda:  There's  no  question  of  not  telling  him,  is  there? 

Leo:  Of  course  not. 

Gilda:  We  could  pretend  that  you  just  arrived  here 
and  missed  them  on  the  way. 

Leo:  So  we  could,  dear — so  we  could. 

Gilda:  Do  you  think  we're  working  each  other  up? 
Do  you  think  we're  imagining  it  to  be  more  serious  than 
it  really  is? 

Leo:  Perhaps. 

Gilda:  Do  you  think,  after  all,  he  may  not  mind  quite 
so  dreadfully? 

Leo:  He'll  mind  just  as  much  as  you  or  I  would  under 
similar  circumstances.  Probably  a  little  bit  more. 
Imagine  that  for  a  moment,  will  you?  Put  yourself  in 
his  place. 

Gilda  (hopelessly):  Oh,  don't! 

[22  J 

% 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  Tell  me  one  thing.  How  sorry  were  you  last 
night,  when  once  you  realized  we  were  in  for  it? 

Gilda:  I  wasn't  sorry  at  all.    I  gave  way  utterly. 

Leo:  So  did  I. 

Gilda:  Very  deep  inside,  I  had  a  qualm  or  two.  Just 
once  or  twice. 

Leo:  So  did  I. 

Gilda:  But  I  stamped  on  them,  like  killing  beetles. 

Leo:  A  nice  way  to  describe  the  pangs  of  a  noble 
conscience! 

Gilda:  I  enjoyed  it  all,  see!  I  enjoyed  it  thoroughly 
from  the  very  first  moment.    So  there! 

Leo:  All  right!    All  right!    So  did  I. 

Gilda  (defiantly):  It  was  romantic.  Suddenly,  vio- 
lently romantic!  The  whole  evening  was  "  Gala."  You 
looked  lovely,  darling — very  smooth  and  velvety — and 
your  manner  was  a  dream!  I'd  forgotten  about  your 
French  accent  and  the  way  you  move  your  hands,  and 
the  way  you  dance.    A  sleek  little  gigolo! 

Leo:  You  must  try  not  to  be  bitter,  dear. 

Gilda:  There  seemed  to  be  something  new  about  you: 
something  I'd  never  realized  before.  Perhaps  it's  having 
money.  Perhaps  your  success  has  given  you  a  little 
extra  glamour. 

Leo:  Look  at  me  now,  sweet!  It's  quite  chilly,  this 
morning  light.    How  do  I  appear  to  you  now? 

Gilda  (gently) :  The  same. 

Leo:  So  do  you,  but  that's  because  my  eyes  are  slow 
at  changing  visions.  I  still  see  you  too  clearly  last  night 
to  be  able  to  realize  how  you  look  this  morning.  You  were 
very  got  up — very  got  up,  indeed,  in  your  green  dress  and 
your  earrings.    It  was  "Gala,"  all  right — strong  magic! 

# 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  Coloured  lights,  sly  music,  overhanging  trees, 
paper  streamers — all  the  trappings. 

Leo:  Champagne,  too,  just  to  celebrate,  both  of  us 
hating  it. 

Gilda:  We  drank  to  Otto.  Perhaps  you  remember 
that  as  well? 

Leo:  Perfectly. 

Gilda  :  How  could  we?    Oh,  how  could  we? 

Leo:  It  seemed  quite  natural. 

Gilda:  Yes,  but  we  knew  in  our  hearts  what  we  were 
up  to.    It  was  vile  of  us. 

Leo:  I'll  drink  Otto's  health  until  the  day  I  die! 
Nothing  could  change  that  ever. 

Gilda:  Sentimentalist! 

Leo:  Deeper  than  sentiment:  far,  far  deeper.  Beyond 
the  reach  of  small  enchantments. 

Gilda:  Was  that  all  it  was  to  you?  A  small  enchant- 
ment? 

Leo  :  That's  all  it  ever  is  to  anybody,  if  only  they  knew. 

Gilda:  Easy  wisdom.     Is  it  a  comfort  to  you? 

Leo:  Not  particularly. 

Gilda  {viciously):  Let's  have  some  more!  "Passion's 
only  transitory,"  isn't  it?  "Love  is  ever  fleeting!" 
"Time  is  a  great  healer."     Trot  them  all  out,  dear. 

Leo:  Don't  try  to  quarrel  with  me. 

Gilda:  Don't  be  so  wise  and  assured  and  knowing, 
then.     It's  infuriating. 

Leo:  I  believe  I  was  more  to  blame  than  you,  really. 

Gilda:  Why? 

Leo:  I  made  the  running. 

Gilda:  You  made  the  running! 
She  laughs. 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  A  silly  pride  made  me  show  off  to  you,  parade 
my  attraction  for  you,  like  a  mannequin.  New  spring 
model,  with  a  few  extra  flounces! 

Gilda:  That's  my  story,  Leo;  you  can't  steal  it  from 
me.  I've  been  wallowing  in  self-abasement,  dragging 
out  my  last  night's  femininity  and  spitting  on  it.  I've 
taken  the  blame  onto  myself  for  the  whole  thing.  Ernest 
was  quite  shocked;  you  should  have  been  listening  at  the 
door. 

Leo  :  I  was. 

Gilda:  Good!    Then  you  know  how  I  feel. 

Leo  :  Lot  of  damned  hysteria. 

Gilda:  Possibly,  but  heartfelt  at  the  moment. 

Leo:  Can't  we  put  an  end  to  this  flagellation  party 
now? 

Gilda:  We  might  just  as  well  go  on  with  it,  it  passes 
the  time. 

Leo  :  Until  Otto  comes  back. 

Gilda:  Yes.    Until  Otto  comes  back. 

Leo  (walking  up  and  down):  I  expect  jealousy  had 
something  to  do  with  it,  too. 

Gilda:  Jealousy? 

Leo:  Yes.  Subconscious  and  buried  deep,  but  there 
all  the  same;  there  for  ages,  ever  since  our  first  meeting 
when  you  chose  Otto  so  firmly. 

Gilda:  Another  of  those  pleasant  little  galas!  The 
awakening  of  spring!  Romance  in  a  cafe!  Yes,  sir! 
"Yes,  sir,  three  bags  full!" 

Leo:  A  strange  evening.  Very  gay,  if  I  remember 
rightly. 

Gilda:  Oh,  it  was  gay,  deliriously  gay,  thick  with 
omens! 

[25] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  Perhaps  we  laughed  at  them  too  hard. 

Gilda:  You  and  Otto  had  a  row  afterwards,  didn't 
you? 

Leo:  Yes,  a  beauty. 

Gilda:  Blows? 

Leo:  Ineffectual  blows.    Otto  fell  into  the  bath! 

Gilda:  Was  there  any  water  in  it? 

Leo:  Not  at  first. 

Gilda  (beginning  to  laugh) :  Leo,  you  didn't ? 

Leo  (also  beginning  to  laugh):  Of  course  I  did;  it  was 
the  obvious  thing  to  do. 

Gilda:  Couldn't  he  get  out? 

Leo  :  Every  time  he  tried,  I  pushed  him  back. 

Gilda  (now  laughing  helplessly):  Oh,  the  poor  dar- 
ling!  


Leo  (giving  way) :  Finally — he — he  got  wedged 

Gilda:  This  is  hysteria!    Stop  it,  stop  it 

Leo  (sinking  down  at  the  table  with  his  head  in  his  hands, 
roaring  with  laughter):  It — it  was  a  very  narrow  bath, 

far — far — too  narrow 

Gilda  (collapsing  at  the  other  side  of  the  table) :  Shut  up, 
for  heaven's  sake!    Shut  up — — ■ 

They  are  sitting  there,  groaning  with  laughter,  when 
Otto  comes  into  the  room. 
Otto:  Leo! 

They  both  look  up,  and  the  laughter  dies  away  from 
their  faces.    Leo  rises  and  comes  slowly  over  to  Otto. 
He  takes  both  his  hands  and  stands  looking  at  him. 
Leo:  Hello,  Otto. 

Otto:  Why  did  you  stop  laughing  so  suddenly? 
Leo:  It's  funny  how  lovely  it  is  to  see  you. 
Otto:  Why  funny? 

[26] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  Where's  Ernest? 

Otto:  He  wouldn't  come  back  with  me.  He  darted 
off  in  a  taxi  very  abruptly  when  we  found  Leo  wasn't  at 
the  hotel.    He  seemed  to  be  in  a  fluster. 

Leo:  Ernest's  often  in  a  fluster.  It's  part  of  his  per- 
sonality, I  think. 

Otto:  Ernest  hasn't  got  a  personality. 

Gilda:  Yes,  he  has;  but  it's  only  a  very  little  one, 
gentle  and  prim. 

Otto:  You've  changed,  Leo.  Your  face  looks  differ- 
ent. 

Leo:  In  what  way  different? 

Otto:  I  don't  know,  sort  of  odd. 

Leo:  I  was  very  seasick  on  the  Mauretania.  Perhaps 
that  changed  it. 

Gilda:  They  call  the  Mauretania  "The  Greyhound  of 
the  Ocean."    I  wonder  why? 

Leo:  Because  it's  too  long  and  too  thin  and  leaps  up 
and  down. 

Gilda:  Personally,  I  prefer  the  Olympic.  It's  a  good- 
natured  boat  and  cozy,  also  it  has  a  Turkish  bath. 

Leo:  I  dearly  love  a  Turkish  bath. 

Otto:  Have  you  both  gone  crazy? 

Leo:  Yes.    Just  for  a  little. 

Otto:  What  does  that  mean? 

Gilda:  Lots  of  things,  Otto.  Everything's  quite 
horrid. 

Otto:  I'm  awfully  puzzled.  I  wish  you'd  both  stop 
hinting  and  tell  me  what's  happened. 

Leo:  It's  serious,  Otto.    Please  try  to  be  wise  about  it. 

Otto  (with  slight  irritation):  How  the  hell  can  I  be 
wise  about  it  if  I  don't  know  what  it  is? 

t*7J 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo  (turning  away):  Oh,  God!    This  is  unbearable! 

Otto  (fighting  against  the  truth  that's  dawning  on  him) : 
It  wouldn't  be  what  I  think  it  is,  would  it?  I  mean, 
what's  just  dropped  into  my  mind.    It  isn't  that,  is  it? 

Gilda:  Yes. 

Leo:  Yes. 

Otto  (very  quietly) :  Oh,  I  see. 

Gilda  (miserably) :  If  only  you  wouldn't  look  like  that. 

Otto  :  I  can't  see  that  it  matters  very  much  how  I  look. 

Leo:  We're — we're  both  equally  to  blame. 

Otto:  When  did  you  arrive?  When — when  did — 
don't  you  think  you'd  better  tell  me  a  little  more? 

Leo  (swiftly) :  I  arrived  yesterday  afternoon,  and  the 
moment  I'd  left  my  bags  at  the  hotel  I  came  straight 
here,  naturally.  Gilda  and  I  dined  together,  and  I  spent 
the  night  here. 

Otto:  Oh — oh,  did  you? 

Leo  (after  a  long  pause) :  Yes,  I  did. 

Otto:  This  is  the  second  bad  entrance  I've  made  this 
morning.    I  don't  think  I'd  better  make  any  more. 

Gilda:  Otto — darling — please,  listen  a  minute! 

Otto:  What  is  there  to  listen  to?  What  is  there  for 
you  to  say? 

Gilda:  Nothing.  You're  quite  right.  Nothing  at 
all. 

Otto:  Have  you  planned  it?    Before,  I  mean? 

Leo:  Of  course  not. 

Otto:  Was  it  in  your  minds? 

Leo:  Yes.  It's  been  in  all  our  minds,  for  ages.  You 
know  that. 

Otto:  You  couldn't  have  controlled  yourself?  Not 
for  my  sake,  alone,  but  for  all  that  lies  between  us? 

US] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  We  could  have,  I  suppose.    But  we  didn't. 

Otto  (still  quiet,  but  trembling):  Instead  of  meanly 
taking  advantage  of  my  being  away,  couldn't  you 
have  waited  until  I  came  back,  and  told  me  how  you 
felt? 

Leo:  Would  that  have  made  things  any  better? 

Otto:  It  would  have  been  honest,  at  least. 

Leo  (with  sudden  violence):  Bunk!  We're  being  as 
honest  as  we  know  how!  Chance  caught  us,  as  it  was 
bound  to  catch  us  eventually.  We  were  doomed  to  it 
from  the  very  first  moment.  You  don't  suppose  we  en- 
joy telling  you,  do  you?  You  don't  suppose  I  like  watch- 
ing the  pleasure  at  seeing  me  fade  out  of  your  eyes?  If  it 
wasn't  that  we  loved  you  deeply,  both  of  us,  we'd  lie  to 
you  and  deceive  you  indefinitely,  rather  than  inflict  this 
horror  on  ourselves. 

Otto  (his  voice  rising  slightly):  And  what  about  the 
horror  you're  inflicting  on  me? 

Gilda:  Don't  argue,  Leo.    What's  the  use  of  arguing? 

Otto:  So,  you  love  me,  do  you?  Both  of  you  love  me 
deeply!  I  don't  want  a  love  that  can  shut  me  out  and 
make  me  feel  more  utterly  alone  than  I've  ever  felt  in  my 
life  before. 

Gilda:  Don't  say  that — it's  not  true!  You  couldn't 
be  shut  out — ever!  Not  possibly.  Hold  on  to  reason 
for  a  moment,  for  the  sake  of  all  of  us — hold  on  to  reason! 
It's  our  only  chance.  We've  known  this  might  happen 
any  day;  we've  actually  discussed  it,  quite  calmly  and 
rationally,  but  then  there  wasn't  any  emotion  mixed  up 
with  it.  Now  there  is,  and  we've  got  to  fight  it.  It's 
distorting  and  overbalancing  everything — don't  you  see? 
Oh,  please,  please  try  to  see 

[29] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Otto:  I  see  all  right.    Believe  me,  I  see  perfectly! 

Gilda:  You  don't,  really — it's  hopeless. 

Otto:  Quite  hopeless. 

Gilda:  It  needn't  be,  if  only  we  can  tide  over  this 
moment. 

Otto:  Why  should  we  tide  over  this  moment?    It's  a 
big  moment!    Let's  make  the  most  of  it. 
He  gives  a  little  laugh. 

Leo  :  I  suppose  that  way  of  taking  it  is  as  good  as  any. 

Gilda:  No,  it  isn't — it  isn't. 

T)tto:  I  still  find  the  whole  thing  a  little  difficult  to 
realize  completely.  You  must  forgive  me  for  being  so 
stupid.  I  see  quite  clearly;  I  hear  quite  clearly;  I  know 
what's  happened  quite  clearly,  but  I  still  don't  quite 
understand. 

Leo  :  What  more  do  you  want  to  understand? 

Otto  :  Were  you  both  drunk? 

Gilda:  Of  course  we  weren't. 

Otto:  Then  that's  ruled  out.  One  thing  is  still  be- 
wildering me  very  much.  Quite  a  small  trivial  thing 
You  are  both  obviously  strained  and  upset  and  unhappy 
at  having  to  tell  me.    Isn't  that  so? 

Gilda:  Yes. 

Otto:  Then  why  were  you  laughing  when  I  came  in? 

Leo  :  Oh,  what  on  earth  does  that  matter? 

Otto:  It  matters  a  lot.    It's  very  interesting. 

Leo:  It  was  completely  irrelevant.  Hysteria.  It 
had  nothing  to  do  with  anything. 

Otto:  Why  were  you  both  laughing  when  I  came  in? 

Leo:  It  was  hysteria,  I  tell  you. 

Otto  :  Were  you  laughing  at  me? 

Leo  {wildly):  Yes,  we  were!    We  were!    We  were 

[30] 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

laughing  at  you  being  wedged  in  the  bath.  That's  what 
we  were  laughing  at. 

Gilda:  Shut  up,  Leo!    Stop  it. 

Leo  (giving  way) :  And  I  shall  laugh  at  that  until  the 
end  of  my  days — I  shall  roll  about  on  my  death  bed  think- 
ing about  it — and  there  are  other  things  I  shall  laugh  at, 
too.  I  shall  laugh  at  you  now,  in  this  situation,  being 
hurt  and  grieved  and  immeasurably  calm.  What  right 
have  you  to  be  hurt  and  grieved,  any  more  than  Gilda 
and  me?  We're  having  just  as  bad  a  time  as  you  are, 
probably  worse.  I  didn't  stamp  about  with  a  martyr's 
crown  on  when  you  rushed  off  with  her,  in  the  first  place; 
I  didn't  look  wistful  and  say  I  was  shut  out.  And  I 
don't  intend  to  stand  any  of  that  nonsense  from  you! 
What  happened  between  Gilda  and  me  last  night  is 
actually  completely  unimportant — a  sudden  flare-up — 
and  although  we've  been  mutually  attracted  to  each  other 
for  years,  it  wasn't  even  based  on  deep  sexual  love!  It 
was  just  an  unpremeditated  roll  in  the  hay  and  we  en- 
joyed it  very  much,  so  there! 

Otto  (furiously):  Well,  one  thing  that  magnificent 
outburst  has  done  for  me  is  this:  I  don't  feel  shut  out  any 
more.  Do  you  hear?  Not  any  more!  And  I'm  ex- 
tremely grateful  to  you.  You  were  right  about  me  being 
hurt  and  grieved.  I  was.  But  that's  over,  too.  I've 
seen  something  in  you  that  I've  never  seen  before;  in  all 
these  years  I've  never  noticed  it — I  never  realized  that, 
deep  down  underneath  your  superficial  charm  and  wit, 
you're  nothing  but  a  cheap,  second-rate  little  opportun- 
ist, ready  to  sacrifice  anything,  however  sacred,  to  the 
excitement  of  the  moment 

Gilda  :  Otto !   Otto — listen  a  minute ;  please  listen 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Otto  (turning  to  her) :  Listen  to  what?  A  few  garbled 
explanations  and  excuses,  fully  charged  with  a  hundred- 
per-cent  feminine  emotionalism,  appealing  to  me  to  hold 
on  to  reason  and  intelligence  as  it's  "our  only  chance.,, 
I  don't  want  an  "only  chance" — I  don't  want  a  chance 
to  do  anything  but  say  what  I  have  to  say  and  leave  you 
both  to  your  own  god-damned  devices!  Where  was  this 
much  vaunted  reason  and  intelligence  last  night?  Work- 
ing overtime,  I'm  sure.  Working  in  a  hundred  small 
female  ways.  I  expect  your  reason  and  intelligence 
prompted  you  to  wear  your  green  dress,  didn't  it?  With 
the  emerald  earrings?  And  your  green  shoes,  too,  al- 
though they  hurt  you  when  you  dance.  Reason  must 
have  whispered  kindly  in  your  ear  on  your  way  back  here 
in  the  taxi.  It  must  have  said,  "Otto's  in  Bordeaux, 
and  Bordeaux  is  a  long  way  away,  so  everything  will  be 
quite  safe!"    That's  reason,  all  right — pure  reason 

Gilda  (collapsing  at  the  table) :  Stop  it!  Stop  it!  How 
can  you  be  so  cruel!  How  can  you  say  such  vile 
things? 

Otto  (without  a  break) :  I  hope  "intelligence"  gave  you 
a  little  extra  jab  and  suggested  that  you  lock  the  door? 
In  furtive,  underhand  affairs  doors  are  always  locked 

Leo:  Shut  up,  Otto.  What's  the  use  of  going  on  like 
that? 

Otto:  Don't  speak  to  me — old,  old  Loyal  Friend  that 
you  are!  Don't  speak  to  me,  even  if  you  have  the  cour- 
age, and  keep  out  of  my  sight  from  now  onwards 

Leo:  Bravo,  Deathless  Drama! 

Otto:  Wrong  again.  Lifeless  Comedy.  You've  set 
me  free  from  a  stale  affection  that  must  have  died  ages 
ago  without  my  realizing  it.    Go  ahead,  my  boy,  and  do 


Act  i  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

great  things!  You've  already  achieved  a  Hotel  de  Luxe, 
a  few  smart  suits,  and  the  woman  I  loved.  Go  ahead, 
maybe  there  are  still  higher  peaks  for  you  to  climb. 
Good  luck,  both  of  you!  Wonderful  luck!  I  wish  you 
were  dead  and  in  hell! 

He  slams  out  of  the  room  as  the  curtain  falls. 


END  OF  ACT  ONE 


[33] 


ACT  TWO 

Scene  I 


ACT  TWO:  Scene  I 

The  scene  is  Leo's  flat  in  London.  It  is  only  a  rented 
flat  but  very  comfortably  furnished.  Two  French 
windows  at  the  back  open  onto  a  small  balcony,  which, 
in  turn,  overlooks  a  square.  It  is  several  floors  up,  so 
only  the  tops  of  trees  can  be  seen;  these  are  brown  and 
losing  their  leaves,  as  it  is  autumn.  Down  stage,  on 
the  Right,  are  double  doors  leading  to  the  hall.  Above 
these,  a  small  door  leads  to  the  kitchen.  On  the  Left,  up 
stage,  another  door  leads  to  the  bedroom  and  bathroom. 
There  is  a  large  picture  of  Gilda,  painted  by  Otto, 
hanging  on  the  wall.  The  furniture  may  be  left  to  the 
producer's  discrimination. 

Discovered:  When  the  curtain  rises,  it  is  about  ten-thirty 
in  the  morning.  Eighteen  months  have  passed  since  A  ct 
One.  The  room  is  strewn  with  newspapers.  Gilda  is 
lying  on  the  sofa,  reading  one;  Leo  is  lying  face  down- 
wards on  the  floor,  reading  another  one. 

Leo  {rolling  over  on  his  back  and  flinging  the  paper  in  the 
air):  It's  a  knockout!  It's  magnificent!  It'll  run  a 
year. 

Gilda:  Two  years. 

Leo:  Three  years. 

Gilda:  Four  years,  five  years,  six  years!  It'll  run 
for  ever.    Old  ladies  will  be  trampled  to  death  struggling 

[37\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

to  get  into  the  pit.  Women  will  have  babies  regularly 
in  the  upper  circle  bar  during  the  big  scene  at  the  end  of 
the  second  act 

Leo  {complacently) :  Regularly  as  clockwork. 

Gilda:  The  Daily  Mail  says  it's  daring  and  dramatic 
and  witty. 

Leo:  The  Daily  Express  says  it's  disgusting. 

Gilda:  I  should  be  cut  to  the  quick  if  it  said  anything 
else. 

Leo:  The  Daily  Mirror,  I  regret  to  say,  is  a  trifle  carp- 
ing. 

Gilda:  Getting  uppish,  I  see.    Naughty  little  thing! 

Leo  {reading  the  Daily  Mirror):  " Change  and  Decay 
is  gripping  throughout.  The  characterization  falters 
here  and  there,  but  the  dialogue  is  polished  and  sustains  a 
high  level  from  first  to  last  and  is  frequently  witty,  nay, 
even  brilliant " 

Gilda:  I  love  "Nay." 

Leo  {still  reading):  "But" — here  we  go,  dear! — "But 
the  play,  on  the  whole,  is  decidedly  thin." 

Gilda:  My  God!    They've  noticed  it. 

Leo  (jumping  up):  Thin — thin!  What  do  they  mean 
"thin"? 

Gilda:  Just  thin,  darling.  Thin's  thin  all  the  world 
over  and  you  can't  get  away  from  it. 

Leo:  Would  you  call  it  thin? 

Gilda:  Emaciated. 

Leo:  I  shall  write  fat  plays  from  now  onwards..  Fat 
plays  filled  with  very  fat  people! 

Gilda:  You  mustn't  let  your  vibrations  be  upset  by 
the  Daily  Mirror.  It  means  to  be  kind.  That's  why 
one  only  looks  at  the  pictures. 

[38] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  The  Daily  Sketch  is  just  as  bad. 

Gilda  {gently) :  Just  as  good,  dear — just  as  good. 

Leo:  Let's  have  another  look  at  Old  Father  Times, 

Gilda:  It's  there,  behind  the  Telegraph. 

Leo  {glancing  through  it) :  Noncommittal,  but  amiable. 
A  minute,  if  slightly  inaccurate,  description  of  the  plot. 

Gilda  {rising  and  looking  over  his  shoulder):  Only  a 
few  of  the  names  wrong. 

Leo:  They  seem  to  have  missed  the  main  idea  of  the 
play. 

Gilda:  You  mustn't  grumble;  they  say  the  lines  are 
provocative. 

Leo:  What  could  they  mean  by  that? 

Gilda:  Anyhow,  you  can't  expect  a  paper  like  the 
Times  to  be  really  interested  in  your  petty  little  ex- 
cursions in  the  theatre.  After  all,  it  is  the  organ  of  the 
nation. 

Leo  :  That  sounds  vaguely  pornographic  to  me. 
The  telephone  rings. 

Leo  {answering  it) :  Hallow!  Hallow — 'oo  is  it  speak- 
ing?— H'if — if  you  will  kaindly  'old  the  line  for  a  moment, 
h'l  will  ascertain. 

He  places  his  hand  over  the  receiver. 
Lady  Brevell! 

Gilda:  Tell  her  to  go  to  hell. 

Leo:  It's  the  third  time  she's  rung  up  this  morning. 

Gilda:  No  restraint.  That's  what's  wrong  with 
Society  nowadays. 

Leo  {at  telephone  again):  Hallow,  hallow! — I  am  seu 
very  sorry  but  Mr.  Mercure  is  not  awake  yet.  'E  'ad  a 
very  tiring  night  what  with  one  thing  and  another.  H'is 
there  any  message? — Lunch  on  the  third — or  dinner  on 

[39] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

the  seventh. — Yes,  I'll  write  it  daown — not  at  all! — 
Thenk  you. 

Gilda  (seriously) :  How  do  you  feel  about  all  that? 

Leo:  Amused. 

Gilda:  I'm  not  sure  that  I  do. 

Leo:  It's  only  funny,  really. 

Gilda:  Yes,  but  dangerous. 

Leo:  Are  you  frightened  that  my  silly  fluffy  little 
head  will  be  turned? 

Gilda:  No,  not  exactly,  but  it  makes  me  uncomfort- 
able, this  snatching  that  goes  on.  Success  is  far  more 
perilous  than  failure,  isn't  it?  You've  got  to  be  doubly 
strong  and  watchful  and  wary. 

Leo:  Perhaps  I  shall  survive. 

Gilda:  You'll  survive  all  right,  in  the  long  run — I 
don't  doubt  that  for  a  moment.  It's  me  I  was  worrying 
about. 

Leo:  Why? 

Gilda:  Not  me,  alone.    Us. 

Leo:  Oh,  I  see. 

Gilda:  Maybe  I'm  jealous  of  you.  I  never  thought 
of  that. 

Leo:  Darling,  don't  be  silly! 

Gilda:  Last  year  was  bad  enough.  This  is  going  to 
be  far  worse. 

Leo:  Why  be  scared? 

Gilda:  Where  do  we  go  from  here?  That's  what  I 
want  to  know. 

Leo:  How  would  you  feel  about  getting  married? 

Gilda  (laughing):  It's  not  that,  dear! 

Leo:  I  know  it  isn't,  but 

Gilda:  But  what? 

Uo] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  It  might  be  rather  fun.  We'd  get  a  lot  more 
presents  now  than  if  we'd  done  it  before. 

Gilda:  A  very  grand  marriage.  St.  Margaret's, 
Westminster? 

Leo:  Yes,  with  a  tremendous  "do"  at  Claridge's  after- 
wards. 

Gilda:  The  honeymoon  would  be  thrilling,  wouldn't 
it?  Just  you  and  me,  alone,  rinding  out  about  each 
other. 

Leo:  I'd  be  very  gentle  with  you,  very  tender. 

Gilda:  You'd  get  a  sock  in  the  jaw,  if  you  were! 

Leo  (shocked):  Oh,  how  volgar!  How  inexpressibly 
volgar! 

Gilda:  It's  an  enjoyable  idea  to  play  with,  isn't  it? 

Leo:  Let's  do  it. 

Gilda:  Stop!  Stop,  stop — you're  rushing  me  off  my 
feet! 

Leo:  No,  but  seriously,  it's  a  much  better  plan  than 
you  think.  It  would  ease  small  social  situations  enor- 
mously. The  more  successful  I  become,  the  more  compli- 
cated everything's  going  to  get.    Let's  do  it,  Gilda. 

Gilda:  No. 

Leo:  Why  not? 

Gilda:  It  wouldn't  do.    Really,  it  wouldn't. 

Leo:  I  think  you're  wrong. 

Gilda:  It  doesn't  matter  enough  about  the  small 
social  situations,  those  don't  concern  me  much,  anyway. 
They  never  have  and  they  never  will.  I  shouldn't  feel 
cozy,  married!    It  would  upset  my  moral  principles. 

Leo:  Doesn't  the  Eye  of  Heaven  mean  anything  to 
you? 

Gilda:  Only  when  it  winks! 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  God  knows,  it  ought  to  wink  enough  at  our  mar- 
riage. 

Gilda:  Also,  there's  another  thing. 

Leo:  What? 

Gilda:  Otto. 

Leo:  Otto! 

Gilda:  Yes.    I  think  he'd  hate  it. 

Leo:  I  wonder  if  he  would. 

Gilda:  I  believe  so.  There'd  be  no  reason  for  him  to, 
really;  but  I  believe  he  would. 

Leo  :  If  only  he'd  appear  again  we  could  ask  him. 

Gilda:  He  will,  sooner  or  later;  he  can't  go  on  being 
cross  for  ever. 

Leo:  Funny,  about  Otto. 

Gilda:  Screamingly  funny. 

Leo:  Do  you  love  him  still? 

Gilda:  Of  course.    Don't  you? 

Leo  (sighing):  Yes. 

Gilda:  We  couldn't  not  love  Otto,  really. 

Leo:  Could  you  live  with  him  again? 

Gilda:  No,  I  don't  think  so;  that  part  of  it's  dead. 

Leo  :  We  were  right,  weren't  we?  Unconditionally  right. 

Gilda-:  Yes.  I  wish  it  hadn't  been  so  drastic,  though, 
and  violent  and  horrid.  I  hated  him  being  made  so  un- 
happy. 

Leo:  We  weren't  any  too  joyful  ourselves,  at  first. 

Gilda:  Conscience  gnawing  at  our  vitals. 

Leo  :  Do  you  think — do  you  think  he'll  ever  get  over 
it,  enough  for  us  all  to  be  together  again? 

Gilda  (with  sudden  vehemence) :  I  don't  want  all  to  be 
together  again. 

The  telephone  rings. 

[42] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  Damn! 

Gilda  {humming):  Oh,  Death,  where  is  thy  sting-a- 
ling-a-ling 

Leo  {at  telephone) :  Hallow!    Hallow — Neo,  I'm  afraid 
he's  eout. 

He  hangs  up. 

Gilda:  Why  don't  you  let  Miss  Hodge  answer  the 
telephone?    It  would  save  you  an  awful  lot  of  trouble. 

Leo:  Do  you  think  she  could? 

Gilda:  I  don't  see  why  not ;  she  seems  in  full  possession 
of  most  of  her  faculties. 

Leo:  Where  is  she? 

Gilda:  She's   what's    known    as    "doing   the    bed- 


Leo  {calling) :  Miss  Hodge — Miss  Hodge 

Gilda:  We  ought  to  have  a  valet  in  a  white  coat, 
really.  Think  if  television  came  in  suddenly,  and 
everyone  who  rang  up  was  faced  with  Miss  Hodge! 

Miss  Hodge  enters.    She  is  dusty  and  extremely 
untidy. 

Miss  Hodge:  Did  you  call? 

Leo:  Yes,  Miss  Hodge. 

Miss  Hodge  :  I  was  doing  the  bedroom. 

Leo:  Yes,  I  know  you  were  and  I'm  sorry  to  disturb 
you,  but  I  have  a  favour  to  ask  you. 

Miss  Hodge  {suspiciously) :  Favour? 

Leo:  Yes.  Every  time  the  telephone  rings,  will  you 
answer  it  for  me? 

Miss  Hodge  {with  dignity) :  If  I  'appen  to  be  where  I 
can  'ear  it,  I  will  with  pleasure. 

Leo:  Thank  you  very  much.  Just  ask  who  it  is 
speaking  and  tell  them  to  hold  the  line. 

143) 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Miss  Hodge:  'Ow  long  for? 
Leo:  Until  you've  told  me. 
Miss  Hodge:  All  right. 

She  goes  back  into  the  bedroom. 
Leo:  I  fear  no  good  will  come  of  that. 
Gilda:  Do  you  think  while  I  am  here  alone  in  the 
evenings,  when  you  are  rushing  madly  from  party  to 
party,   I   might   find   out   about   Miss   Hodge's  inner 
life? 

The  telephone  rings. 
Leo:  There  now! 

They  both  wait  while  the  telephone  continues  to  ring. 
Gilda  {sadly):  Two  valets  in  two  white  coats,  that's 
what  we  need,  and  a  secretary  and  an  upper  house- 
maid! 

The  telephone  continues  to  ring. 
Leo:  Perhaps  I'd  better  answer  it,  after  all. 
Gilda:  No,  let  it  ring.    I  love  the  tone. 

Miss   Hodge   comes  flying  in  breathlessly,   and 
rushes  to  the  telephone. 
Miss  Hodge  {at  telephone):  'Alio!   'Alio!  'Allo-'allo- 

'allo-'allo! 

Gilda:  This  is  getting  monotonous. 

Miss  Hodge  {continuing) :  'Alio,  'alio — 'alio !  'Allo- 


Gilda  {conversationally) :  Tell  me,  Mr.  Mercure,  what 
do  you  think  of  the  modern  girl? 

Leo  {politely) :  A  silly  bitch. 

Gilda:  How  cynical! 

Miss  Hodge:  .    .    .    'alio,  'alio,  'alio,  'alio — 'Alio! 

'Alio 

She  turns  to  them  despondently. 
There  don't  seem  to  be  anyone  there. 

[44] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  Never  mind,  Miss  Hodge.  We  mustn't  hope  for 
too  much,  at  first.  Thank  you  very  much. 

Miss  Hodge:  Not  at  all,  sir. 
She  goes  out  again. 

Gilda:  I  feel  suddenly  irritated. 

Leo:  Why? 

Gilda:  I  don't  know.  Reaction,  I  expect,  after  the 
anxiety  of  the  last  few  days.  Now  it's  all  over  and  every- 
thing seems  rather  blank.    How  happy  are  you,  really? 

Leo:  Very,  I  think. 

Gilda:  I  don't  work  hard  enough,  not  nearly  hard 
enough;  I've  only  done  four  houses  for  four  silly  women 
since  we've  been  in  England. 

Leo  :  Monica  Jevon  wants  you  to  do  hers  the  moment 
she  comes  back. 

Gilda:  That'll  make  the  fifth  silly  woman. 

Leo:  She's  not  so  particularly  silly. 

Gilda:  She's  nice,  really,  nicer  than  most  of  them,  I 
suppose.    Oh,  dear! 

Leo:  Cigarette? 

He  throws  her  one. 

Gilda:  Ernest  was  right. 

Leo:  How  do  you  mean?    When? 

Gilda:  Ages  ago.  He  said  my  life  was  untidy.  And 
it  is  untidy.  At  this  moment  it's  untidier  than  ever. 
Perhaps  you're  wise  about  our  marrying;  perhaps  it 
would  be  a  good  thing.  I'm  developing  into  one  of 
those  tedious  unoccupied  women,  who  batten  on  men  and 
spoil  everything  for  them.  I'm  spoiling  the  excitement 
of  your  success  for  you  now  by  being  tiresome  and 
gloomy. 

Leo:  Do  you  think  marriage  would  automatically 

Us] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

transform  you  into  a  busy,  high-spirited  Peg-o'-My- 
Heart? 

Gilda:  Something's  missing,  and  I  don't  know  what  it 
is. 

Leo:  Don't  you? 

Gilda:  No.    Do  you? 

Leo:  Yes,  I  do.  I  know  perfectly  well  what's  miss- 
ing  

The  telephone  rings  again, 

Gilda:  I'll  do  it  this  time. 
She  goes  to  the  telephone. 
Hallo!  Yes. — Oh,  yes,  of  course!  How  do  you  do? — 
Yes,  he's  here,  I'll  call  him. — What? — I'm  sure  he'd  love 
to. — That's  terribly  sweet  of  you,  but  I'm  afraid  I  can't. 
— No,  I've  got  to  go  to  Paris. — No,  only  for  a  few 
days. 

Leo:  Who  is  it? 

Gilda  {with  her  hand  over  the  receiver) :  Mrs.  Borrow- 
dale.  She  wants  you  for  the  week-end. — (Into  telephone 
again) :  Here  he  is. 

Leo  (taking  telephone) :  Hallo,  Marion. — Yes,  wasn't  it 
marvellous? — Terrified  out  of  my  seven  senses. — What? 
— Well,  I'm  not  sure 

Gilda  (hissing  at  him):  Yes,  you  are — quite  sure! 

Leo:  Just  hold  on  one  minute  while  I  look  at  my 
book. — 

He  puts  his  hand  over  the  receiver. 
What  will  you  do  if  I  go? 

Gilda:  Commit  suicide  immediately,  don't  be  so 
silly 

Leo:  Why  didn't  you  accept,  too?    She  asked  you. 

Gilda:  Because  I  don't  want  to  go. 

U6\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo  (at  telephone):  No,  there  isn't  a  thing  down  for 
Saturday.  I'd  love  to  come. — Yes,  that'll  be  grand. — 
Good-bye. 

He  comes  over  to  Gilda. 
Why  don't  you  want  to  come?    She's  awfully  amusing, 
and  the  house  is  lovely. 

Gilda:  It's  much  better  for  you  to  go  alone. 

Leo:  All  right.    Have  it  your  own  way. 

Gilda:  Don't  think  I'm  being  tiresome  again,  there's  a 
darling!  I  just  couldn't  make  the  effort — that's  the 
honest-to-God  reason.  I'm  no  good  at  house  parties;  I 
never  was. 

Leo:  Marion's  house  parties  are  different.  You  can 
do  what  you  like  and  nobody  worries  you. 

Gilda:  I  can  never  find  what  I  like  in  other  people's 
houses,  and  everybody  worries  me. 

Leo:  I  suppose  I  must  be  more  gregarious  than  you. 
I  enjoy  meeting  new  people. 

Gilda:  I  enjoy  meeting  new  people,  too,  but  not 
second-hand  ones. 

Leo:  As  I  said  before,  Marion's  house  parties  are  ex- 
tremely amusing.  She  doesn't  like  "second-hand" 
people,  as  you  call  them,  any  more  than  you  do.  Inci- 
dentally, she's  a  very  intelligent  woman  herself  and  ex- 
ceedingly good  company. 

Gilda:  I  never  said  she  wasn't  intelligent,  and  I'm 
sure  she's  excellent  company.  She  has  to  be.  It's  her 
job. 

Leo:  That  was  a  cheap  gibe — thoroughly  cheap 

The  telephone  rings  again.  Miss  Hodge  sur- 
prisingly appears  almost  at  once.  They  sit  silent 
while  she  answers  it. 

[47] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Miss  Hodge  {at  telephone) :  'Alio !    'Alio — yes 

She  holds  out  the  telephone  to  Leo. 
'Ere,  it's  for  you. 

Leo  {hopelessly) :  Dear  God! 

He  takes  it  and  Miss  Hodge  goes  out. 
Hallo! — Yes,   speaking. — Evening      Standard? — Oh,   all 
right,  send  him  up. 

Gilda:  This  is  a  horrible  morning. 

Leo:  I'm  sorry. 

Gilda:  You  needn't  be.    It  isn't  your  fault. 

Leo  :  Yes,  it  is,  I'm  afraid.  I  happen  to  have  written 
a  successful  play. 

Gilda  {exasperated) :  Oh,  really 

She  turns  away. 

Leo:  Well,  it's  true,  isn't  it?  That's  what's  upsetting 
you? 

Gilda:  Do  you  honestly  think  that? 

Leo:  I  don't  know.  I  don't  know  what  to  think. 
This  looks  like  a  row  but  it  hasn't  even  the  virtue  of  being 
a  new  row.  We've  had  it  before  several  times,  and  just 
lately  more  than  ever.  It's  inevitable  that  the  more 
successful  I  become,  the  more  people  will  run  after  me. 
I  don't  believe  in  their  friendship,  and  I  don't  take  them 
seriously,  but  I  enjoy  them.  Probably  a  damn  sight 
more  than  they  enjoy  me!  I  enjoy  the  whole  thing. 
I've  worked  hard  for  it  all  my  life.  Let  them  all  come! 
They'll  drop  me,  all  right,  when  they're  tired  of  me;  but 
maybe  I  shall  get  tired  first. 

Gilda:  I  hope  you  will. 

Leo:  What  does  it  matter,  anyhow? 

Gilda:  It  matters  a  lot. 

Leo:  I  don't  see  why. 

US] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  They  waste  your  time,  these  ridiculous  celeb- 
rity hunters,  and  they  sap  your  vitality. 

Leo:  Let  them!  I've  got  lots  of  time  and  lots  of 
vitality. 

Gilda:  That's  bravado.  You're  far  too  much  of  an 
artist  to  mean  that,  really. 

Leo:  I'm  far  too  much  of  an  artist  to  be  taken  in  by 
the  old  cliche  of  shutting  out  the  world  and  living  for  my 
art  alone.  There's  just  as  much  bunk  in  that  as  there  is 
in  a  cocktail  party  at  the  Ritz. 

Gilda:  Something's  gone.    Don't  you  see? 

Leo:  Of  course  something's  gone.  Something  always 
goes.  The  whole  business  of  living  is  a  process  of  read- 
justments. What  are  you  mourning  for?  The  dear  old 
careless  days  of  the  Quartier  Latin,  when  Laife  was 
Laife! 

Gilda:  Don't  be  such  a  fool! 

Leo:  Let's  dress  up  poor,  and  go  back  and  pretend, 
shall  we? 

Gilda:  Why  not?  That,  at  least,  would  be  a  definite 
disillusionment. 

Leo  :  Certainly,  it  would.  Standing  over  the  skeletons 
of  our  past  delights  and  trying  to  kick  them  to  life  again. 
That  wouldn't  be  wasting  time,  would  it? 

Gilda:  We  needn't  go  back,  or  dress  up  poor,  in  order 

to  pretend.    We  can  pretend  here.    Among  all  this 

(She  kicks  the  newspapers.)  With  the  trumpets  blowing 
and  the  flags  flying  and  the  telephone  ringing,  we  can  still 
pretend.    We  can  pretend  that  we're  happy. 

She  goes  out  of  the  room  as  the  telephone  rings. 
Leo  stands  looking  after  her  for  a  moment,  and  then 
goes  to  the  desk. 

[49] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo  (at  telephone):  Hallo! — What? — Yes,  speaking. — 

Very  well,  I'll  hold  the  line 

Miss  Hodge  comes  in  from  the  hall. 

Miss  Hodge:  There's  a  gentleman  to  see  you.  He 
says  he's  from  the  Evening  Standard. 

Leo  :  Show  him  in. 

Miss  Hodge  goes  out. 

Leo  (at  telephone):  Hallo— yes!  Hallo  there,  how  are 
you?    Of  course,  for  hours,  reading  the  papers. — Yes,  all 

of  them  marvellous 

Mr.  Birbeck  enters.  Leo  motions  him  to  sit  down. 
I'm  so  glad — it  was  thrilling,  wasn't  it? — Did  he  really? 
That's  grand! — Nonsense,  it's  always  nice  to  hear  things 
like  that— of  course,  I'd  love  to. — Black  tie  or  white  tie — 
no  tie  at  all!  That'll  be  much  more  comfortable. — 
Good-bye. — What? — No,  really?  So  soon?  You'll  know 
it  by  heart. — Yes,  rather. — Good-bye ! 

He  hangs  up  the  telephone. 
I'm  so  sorry. 

Mr.  Birbeck  (shaking  hands) :  I'm  from  the  Standard. 

Leo:  Yes,  I  know. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  I've  brought  a  photographer.  I  hope 
you  don't  mind?  We  thought  a  little  study  of  you  in 
your  own  home  would  be  novel  and  interesting. 

Leo  (bitterly) :  I'm  sure  it  would. 

Mr.  BntBECK:  First  of  all,  may  I  ask  you  a  few  ques- 
tions? 

Leo:  Certainly,  go  ahead.    Cigarette? 

Mr.  Birbeck  :  No,  thank  you.  I'm  not  a  smoker  myself. 

Leo  (taking  one  and  lighting  it) :  I  am. 

Mr.  Birbeck  (producing  notebook):  This  is  not  your 
first  play,  is  it? 

[So] 


Act  h  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  No,  my  seventh.    Two  of  them  have  been  pro- 
duced in  London  within  the  last  three  years. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  What  were  their  names? 

Leo:  The  Swift  River  and  Mrs.  Draper. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  How  do  you  spell  "Mrs.  Draper"? 

Leo:  The  usual  way — m  rs  draper. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Do  you  care  for  sport? 

Leo:  Yes,  madly. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Which  particular  sport  do  you  like 
best? 

Leo:  No  particular  one.    I'm  crazy  about  them  all. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  I  see. 
He  writes. 
Do  you  believe  the  talkies  will  kill  the  theatre? 

Leo:  No.    I  think  they'll  kill  the  talkies. 

Mr.  Birbeck  (laughing):  That's  very  good,  that  is! 
It  really  is. 

Leo:  Not  as  good  as  all  that. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  There's  a  question  that  interests  our 
lady  readers  very  much 

Leo:  What's  that? 

Mr.  Birbeck:  What  is  your  opinion  of  the  modern 
girl? 

Leo  (without  flinching):  Downright;  straightforward; 
upright. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  You  approve  of  the  modern  girl,  then? 

Leo  :  I  didn't  say  so. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  What  are  your  ideas  on  marriage? 

Leo:  Garbled. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  That's  good,  that  is.    Very  good! 

Leo  (rising) :  Don't  put  it,  though — don't  write  down 
any  of  this  interview;  come  and  see  me  again. 

ISi] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Why,  what's  wrong? 

Leo:  The  whole  thing's  wrong,  Mr. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Birbeck. 

Leo:  Mr.  Birbeck.    The  whole  business  is  grotesque. 
Don't  you  see  how  grotesque  it  is? 

Mr.  Birbeck:  I'm  afraid  I  don't  understand. 

Leo:  Don't  you  ever  feel  sick  inside  when  you  have  to 
ask  those  questions? 

Mr.  Birbeck:  No,  why  should  I? 

Leo:  Will  you  do  me  a  very  great  favour? 

Mr.  Birbeck:  What  is  it? 

Leo:  Call  in  your  photographer.     Photograph  me — 
and  leave  me  alone. 

Mr.  Birbeck  (of ended) :  Certainly. 

Leo:  Don't  think  me  rude.     I'm  just  rather  tired, 
that's  all. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  I  quite  understand. 

He  goes  out  into  the  hall  and  returns  in  a  moment 
with  the  photographer. 
Where  do  you  think  would  be  best? 

Leo:  Wherever  you  say. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Just  here? 

Leo  (taking  his  stand  just  in  front  of  the  desk) :  All 
right. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Perhaps  I   could  come  and  see  you 
again  sometime  when  you're  not  so  tired? 

Leo:  Yes,  of  course.    Telephone  me. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Tomorrow? 

Leo:  Yes,  tomorrow. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  About  eleven? 

Leo:  Yes.    About  eleven. 

Mr.  Birbeck:  Now,  then — are  you  ready? 

[52\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda  comes  out  of  the  bedroom,  dressed  for  the 
street.  She  goes  over  to  Leo  and  puts  her  arms  round 
his  neck. 

Gilda:  I'm  going  to  do  a  little  shopping {Then 

softly) :  Sorry,  darling 

Leo:  All  right,  sweet. 

Gilda  goes  out. 
Mr.  Birbeck:  Just  a  little  smile! 
Leo  smiles  as  the  curtain  falls. 


end  of  act  two:  scene  i 


[S3] 


ACT  TWO 
Scene  II 


ACT  TWO:  Scene  II 

The  scene  is  the  same,  a  few  days  later. 

It  is  evening,  and  Miss  Hodge  has  just  finished 
laying  a  cold  supper  on  a  bridge  table  in  front  of  the 
sofa.  She  regards  it  thoughtfully  for  a  moment,  and 
then  goes  to  the  bedroom  door. 

Miss  Hodge  :  Your  supper's  all  ready,  ma'am. 
Gilda   {in  bedroom):  Thank  you,   Miss  Hodge.    I 
shan't  want  you  any  more  tonight,  then. 

Miss  Hodge  goes  off  into  the  kitchen.    Gilda 
comes  out  of  the  bedroom.    She  is  wearing  pyjamas  and 
a  dressing  gown.    She  goes  over  to  the  desk,  on  which 
there  is  a  parcel  of  books.    She  undoes  the  parcel  and 
scrutinizes  the  books,  humming  happily  to  herself  as 
she  does  so.    Miss  Hodge  reenters  from  the  kitchen, 
this  time  in  her  coat  and  hat. 
Gilda:  Hello,  Miss  Hodge!    I  thought  you'd  gone. 
Miss  Hodge:  I  was  just  putting  on  me  'at.    I  think 
you'll  find  everything  you  want  there. 
Gilda:  I'm  sure  I  shall.    Thank  you. 
Miss  Hodge:  Not  at  all;  it's  a  pleasure,  I'm  sure. 
Gilda:  Oh,  Miss  Hodge,  do  you  think  it  would  be  a 
good  idea  if  Mr.  Mercure  and  I  got  married? 
Miss  Hodge  :  I  thought  you  was  married. 
Gilda  :  Oh,  I'd  forgotten.    We  never  told  you,  did  we? 

[57] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Miss  Hodge:  You  certainly  didn't. 

Gilda:  Well,  we're  not. 

Miss  Hodge  {thoughtfully) :  Oh,  I  see. 

Gilda:  Are  you  shocked? 

Miss  Hodge  :  It's  no  affair  of  mine,  ma'am — miss. 

Gilda:  What  do  you  think  about  marriage? 

Miss  Hodge:  Not  very  much,  miss,  having  had  a 
basinful  meself ,  in  a  manner  of  speaking. 

Gilda  (surprised):  What! 

Miss  Hodge:  Hodge  is  my  maiden  name.     I  took  it 
back  in — in  disgust,  if  you  know  what  I  mean. 

Gilda:  Have  you  been  married  much,  then? 

Miss  Hodge:  Twice,  all  told. 

Gilda  :  Where  are  your  husbands  now? 

Miss  Hodge:  One's  dead,  and  the  other's  in  New- 
castle. 

Gilda  (smiling) :  Oh. 

Miss  Hodge:  Well,  I'll  be  getting  'ome  now,  if  there's 
nothing  else  you  require? 

Gilda:  No,  there's  nothing  else,  thank  you.     Good- 
night. 

Miss  Hodge:  Good-night,  miss. 

Miss  Hodge  goes  out.  Gilda  laughs  to  herself; 
pours  herself  out  a  glass  of  Sherry  from  the  bottle  on  the 
table,  and  settles  onto  the  sofa  with  the  books.  Otto 
comes  in  from  the  hall  and  stands  in  the  doorway, 
looking  at  her. 

Otto:  Hallo,  Gilda! 

Gilda  (turning  sharply  and  staring  at  him):  It's  not 
true! 

Otto  (coming  into  the  room) :  Here  we  are  again! 

Gilda:  Oh,  Otto! 

[58] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto  :  Are  you  pleased? 

Gilda:  I  don't  quite  know  yet. 

Otto  :  Make  up  your  mind,  there's  a  dear. 

Gilda:  I'll  try.  * 

Otto  :  Where's  Leo? 

Gilda:  Away.    He  went  away  this  afternoon. 

Otto:  This  seems  a  very  nice  flat. 

Gilda:  It  is.  You  can  see  right  across  to  the  other 
side  of  the  square  on  a  clear  day. 

Otto:  I've  only  just  arrived. 

Gilda:  Where  from? 

Otto:  New  York.    I  had  an  exhibition  there. 

Gilda:  Was  it  successful? 

Otto:  Very,  thank  you. 

Gilda:  I've  decided  quite  definitely  now:  I'm  ecstati- 
cally pleased  to  see  you. 

Otto:  That's  lovely. 

Gilda:  How  did  you  get  in? 

Otto:  I  met  an  odd-looking  woman  going  out.  She 
opened  the  door  for  me. 

Gilda:  That  was  Miss  Hodge.  She's  had  two  hus- 
bands. 

Otto:  I  once  met  a  woman  who'd  had  four  husbands. 

Gilda:  Aren't  you  going  to  take  off  your  hat  and  coat? 

Otto  :  Don't  you  like  them? 

Gilda:  Enormously.  It  was  foolish  of  me  to  ask 
whether  your  exhibition  was  successful.  I  can  see  it  was ! 
Your  whole  personality  reeks  of  it. 

Otto  {taking  of  his  hat  and  coat) :  I'm  disappointed 
that  Leo  isn't  here. 

Gilda:  He'll  be  back  on  Monday. 

Otto:  How  is  he,  please? 

[59\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda:  Awfully  well. 

Otto:  Oh,  dear!  Oh,  dear,  oh,  dear — I  feel  very 
funny!  I  feel  as  if  I  were  going  to  cry,  and  I  don't  want 
to  cry  a  bit. 

Gilda:  Let's  both  cry,  just  a  little! 

Otto:  Darling,  darling  Gilda! 

They  rush  into  each  other's  arms  and  hug  each  other. 

Otto:  It's  all,  all  right  now,  isn't  it? 

Gilda:  More  than  all  right. 

Otto:  I  was  silly  to  stay  away  so  long,  wasn't  I? 

Gilda:  That  was  what  Leo  meant  the  other  morning 
when  he  said  he  knew  what  was  missing. 

Otto:  Me? 

Gilda:  Of  course. 

Otto:  I'm  terribly  glad  he  said  that. 

Gilda:  We  were  having  a  row,  trying  to  find  out  why 
we  weren't  quite  as  happy  as  we  should  be. 

Otto:  Do  you  have  many  rows? 

Gilda:  Quite  a  lot,  every  now  and  then. 

Otto:  As  many  as  we  used  to? 

Gilda:  About  the  same.  There's  a  bit  of  trouble  on 
at  the  moment,  really.  He's  getting  too  successful  and 
sought  after.    I'm  worried  about  him. 

Otto:  You  needn't  be.    It  won't  touch  him — inside. 

Gilda:  I'm  afraid,  all  the  same;  they're  all  so  shrill 
and  foolish,  clacking  at  him. 

Otto:  I  read  about  the  play  in  the  train.  It's  a  riot, 
isn't  it? 

Gilda:  Capacity — every  performance. 

Otto:  Is  it  good? 

Gilda:  Yes,  I  think  so. 

Otto:  Only  think  so? 

[60] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda:  Three  scenes  are  first  rate,  especially  the  last 
act.  The  beginning  of  the  second  act  drags  a  bit,  and 
most  of  the  first  act's  too  facile — you  know  what  I  mean 
— he  flips  along  with  easy  swift  dialogue,  but  doesn't 
go  deep  enough.    It's  all  very  well  played. 

Otto:  We'll  go  on  Monday  night. 

Gilda:  Will  you  stay,  now  that  you've  come  back? 

Otto:  I  expect  so.    It  depends  on  Leo. 

Gilda:  Oh! 

Otto:  He  may  not  want  me  to. 

Gilda:  I  think  he'll  want  you  to,  even  more  than  I  do! 

Otto:  Why  do  you  say  that? 

Gilda:  I  don't  know.  It  came  up  suddenly,  like  a 
hiccup. 

Otto:  I  feel  perfectly  cozy  about  the  whole  business 
now,  you  know — no  trailing  ends  of  resentment — I'm 
clear  and  clean,  a  newly  washed  lamb,  bleating  for 
Company! 

Gilda:  Would  you  like  some  Sherry? 

Otto:  Very  much  indeed. 

Gilda:  Here,  have  my  glass.  I'll  get  another.  We'll 
need  another  plate  as  well  and  a  knife  and  fork. 

Otto  {looking  over  the  table):  Cold  ham,  salad;  what's 
that  blob  in  the  pie  dish? 

Gilda:  Cold  rice  pudding.  Delicious!  You  can  have 
jam  with  it  and  cream. 

Otto  {without  enthusiasm) :  How  glorious. 

Gilda  runs  into  the  kitchen  and  returns  in  a  moment 
with  plate  and  knife  and  fork,  etc. 

Gilda:  Here  we  are! 

Otto:  I  expected  more  grandeur. 

Gilda:  Butlers  and  footmen? 

[6i\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto:  Yes,  just  a  few.  Concealed  lighting,  too. 
There's  something  a  thought  sordid  about  that  lamp  over 
there.    Did  you  decorate  this  room? 

Gilda:  You  know  perfectly  well  I  didn't. 

Otto:  Well,  you  should. 

Gilda:  Do  you  want  anything  stronger  to  drink  than 
Sherry? 

Otto:  No,  Sherry's  all  right.  It's  gentle  and  refined, 
and  imparts  a  discreet  glow.  Of  course,  I'm  used  to 
having  biscuits  with  it. 

Gilda:  There  aren't  any  biscuits. 

Otto  {magnificently) :  It  doesn't  matter. 

Gilda:  Do  sit  down,  darling. 

Otto  {drawing  up  a  chair):  What  delicious-looking 
ham!    Where  did  you  get  it? 

Gilda:  I  have  it  specially  sent  from  Scotland. 

Otto:  Why  Scotland? 

Gilda:  It  lives  there  when  it's  alive. 

Otto:  A  bonny  country,  Scotland,  if  all  I've  heard  is 
correct,  what  with  the  banshees  wailing  and  the  four- 
leaved  shamrock. 

Gilda:  That's  Ireland,  dear. 

Otto:  Never  mind.  The  same  wistful  dampness  dis- 
tinguishes them  both. 

Gilda  {helping  him  to  ham) :  I  knew  you'd  arrive  soon. 

Otto  {helping  her  to  salad):  Where's  Leo  gone,  ex- 
actly? 

Gilda:  Smart  house  party  in  Hampshire.  Bridge, 
backgammon,  several  novelists,  and  a  squash  court  that 
nobody  uses. 

Otto:  The  Decoration  of  Life — that's  what  that  is. 

Gilda:  Slightly  out  of  drawing,  but  terribly  amusing. 

[62] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto:  It  won't  last  long.    Don't  worry. 

Gilda:  Tell  me  where  you've  been,  please,  and  what 
you've  seen  and  what  you've  done.  Is  your  painting 
still  good,  or  has  it  deteriorated  just  a  little?  I'm  suspi- 
cious, you  see!  Dreadfully  suspicious  of  people  liking 
things  too  much — things  that  matter,  I  mean.  There's 
too  much  enthusiasm  for  Art  going  on  nowadays.  It 
smears  out  the  highlights. 

Otto  :  You're  certainly  in  a  state,  aren't  you? 

Gilda:  Yes,  I  am.    And  it's  getting  worse. 

Otto:  Turbulent!    Downright  turbulent. 

Gilda:  There  isn't  any  mustard. 

Otto:  Never  mind:  I  don't  want  any,  do  you? 

Gilda:  I  don't  know,  really.  I'm  always  a  little  un- 
decided about  mustard. 

Otto:  It  might  pep  up  the  rice  pudding! 

Gilda:  Strange,  isn't  it?  This  going  on  where  we  left 
off? 

Otto:  Not  quite  where  we  left  off,  thank  God. 

Gilda:  Wasn't  it  horrible? 

Otto:  I  was  tortured  with  regrets  for  a  long  while.  I 
felt  I  ought  to  have  knocked  Leo  down. 

Gilda:  I'm  awfully  glad  you  didn't.  He  hates  being 
knocked  down. 

Otto:  Then,  of  course,  he  might  have  retaliated  and 
knocked  me  down ! 

Gilda:  You're  bigger  than  he  is. 

Otto:  He's  more  wiry.  He  once  held  me  in  the  bath 
for  twenty  minutes  while  he  poured  cold  water  over  me. 

Gilda  (laughing):  Yes,  I  know! 

Otto  (laughing  too):  Oh,  of  course — that's  what  you 
were  both  laughing  at  when  I  came  in  that  day,  wasn't  it? 

[63\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda  {weakly) :  Yes,  it  was  very,  very  unfortunate. 

Otto:  An  unkind  trick  of  Fate's,  to  have  dropped  it 
into  your  minds  just  then. 

Gilda:  It  made  a  picture,  you  see — an  unbearably 
comic  picture — we  were  both  terribly  strained  and  un- 
happy; our  nerves  were  stretched  like  elastic,  and  that 
snapped  it. 

Otto:  I  think  that  upset  me  more  than  anything. 

Gilda:  You  might  have  known  it  wasn't  you  we  were 
laughing  at.    Not  you,  yourself. 

Otto:  It's  exactly  a  hundred  and  twenty-seven  years 
ago  today. 

Gilda:  A  hundred  and  twenty-eight. 

Otto:  We've  grown  up  since  then. 

Gilda:  I  do  hope  so,  just  a  little. 

Otto:  I  went  away  on  a  freight  boat,  you  know.  I 
went  for  thousands  of  miles  and  I  was  very  unhappy  in- 
deed. 

Gilda:    And  very  seasick,  I  should  think. 

Otto:  Only  the  first  few  days. 

Gilda:  Not  steadily? 

Otto:  As  steadily  as  one  can  be  seasick. 

Gilda:  Do  you  know  a  lot  about  ships  now? 

Otto:  Not  a  thing.  The  whole  business  still  puzzles 
me  dreadfully.  I  know  about  starboard  and  port,  of 
course,  and  all  the  different  bells;  but  no  one  has  yet  been 
able  to  explain  to  me  satisfactorily  why,  the  first  moment 
a  rough  sea  occurs,  the  whole  thing  doesn't  turn  upside 
down! 

Gilda:  Were  you  frightened? 

Otto:  Petrified,  but  I  got  used  to  it. 

Gilda:  Was  it  an  English  ship? 

[64] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto:  No,  Norwegian.  I  can  say,  "How  do  you  do?" 
in  Norwegian. 

Gilda:  We  must  get  to  know  some  Norwegian  people 
immediately,  so  that  you  can  say  "How  do  you  do?"  to 
them. — Where  are  your  pictures? 

Otto:  Not  unpacked  yet.    They're  at  the  Carlton. 

Gilda:  The  Carlton!  You  haven't  gone  "grand"  on 
me,  too,  have  you? 

Otto:  I  have,  indeed.  I've  got  several  commissions 
to  do  portraits  here  in  London.  The  very  best  people. 
I  only  paint  the  very  best  people. 

Gilda  {almost  snappily) :  They  have  such  interesting 
faces,  haven't  they? 

Otto  (reproachfully) :  I  don't  paint  their  faces,  Gilda. 
Fourth  dimensional,  that's  what  I  am.  I  paint  their 
souls. 

Gilda:  You'd  have  to  be  eighth  dimensional  and  clair- 
voyant to  find  them. 

Otto:  I'm  grieved  to  see  that  Leo  has  done  little  or 
nothing  towards  taming  your  proud  revolutionary  spirit. 

Gilda:  He's  inflamed  it. 

Otto:  I  know  what's  wrong  with  you,  my  sweet. 
You're  just  the  concentrated  essence  of  "Love  Among 
the  Artists." 

Gilda:  I  think  that  was  unkind. 

Otto:  If  you  were  creative  yourself  you'd  understand 
better.  As  it  is,  you  know  a  lot.  You  know  an  awful  lot. 
Your  critical  faculty  is  first  rate.  I'd  rather  have  your 
opinion  on  paintings  or  books  or  plays  than  anyone  else's 
I  know.  But  you're  liable  to  get  sidetracked  if  you're 
not  careful.  Life  is  for  living  first  and  foremost.  Even 
for  artists,  life  is  for  living.    Remember  that. 

[6S] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda:  You  have  grown  up,  haven't  you? 

Otto:  In  the  beginning,  when  we  were  all  in  Paris, 
everything  was  really  very  much  easier  to  manage,  even 
our  emotional  problems.  Leo  and  I  were  both  struggling, 
a  single  line  was  in  both  our  minds  leading  to  success — 
that's  what  we  were  planning  for,  working  like  dogs  for! 
You  helped  us  both,  jostling  us  onto  the  line  again  when 
we  slipped  off,  and  warming  us  when  we  were  cold  in  dis- 
couragement. You  picked  on  me  to  love  a  little  bit  more, 
because  you  decided,  rightly  then,  that  I  was  the  weaker. 
They  were  very  happy,  those  days,  and  glamour  will 
always  cling  to  them  in  our  memories.  But  don't  be 
misled  by  them;  don't  make  the  mistake  of  trying  to  re- 
capture the  spirit  of  them.  That's  dead,  along  with  our 
early  loves  and  dreams  and  quarrels,  and  all  the  rest  of 
the  foolishness. 

Gilda:  I  think  I  want  to  cry  again. 

Otto:  There's  nothing  like  a  good  cry. 

Gilda:  You  can't  blame  me  for  hating  success,  when 
it  changes  all  the — the  things  I  love  best. 

Otto:  Things  would  have  changed,  anyhow.  It 
isn't  only  success  that  does  it — it's  time  and  experience 
andjnew  circumstances. 

Gilda  {bitterly):  Was  it  the  Norwegians  that  taught 
you  this  still  wisdom?     They  must  be  wonderful  people. 

Otto  {gently):  No,  I  was  alone.  I  just  sat  quietly 
and  looked  at  everything. 

Gilda:  I  see. 

Otto:  Would  you  fancy  a  little  more  salad? 

Gilda:  No,  thank  you. 

Otto:  Then  it's  high  time  we  started  on  the  cold  rice 
pudding. 

[66] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda:  I  see  one  thing  clearly. 

Otto  {smiling):  What? 

Gild  a:  I'm  not  needed  any  more. 

Otto  :  I  thought  you  were  going  to  say  that. 

Gilda:  It's  what  you  meant  me  to  say,  isn't  it? 

Otto  :  We  shall  always  need  each  other,  all  three  of  us. 

Gilda:  Nonsense!  The  survival  of  the  fittest — that's 
what  counts. 

Otto  :  Do  have  some  rice  pudding? 

Gilda:  To  hell  with  you  and  the  rice  pudding! 

Otto  {helping  himself):  Hard  words.  Hard,  cruel 
words! 

Gilda:  You're  so  sure  of  yourself,  aren't  you?  You're 
both  so  sure  of  yourselves,  you  and  Leo.  Getting  what 
you  want  must  be  terribly  gratifying! 

Otto  {unruffled) :  It  is. 

Gilda  {suddenly  smiling):  Do  you  remember  how  I 
used  to  rail  and  roar  against  being  feminine? 

Otto:  Yes,  dear.  You  were  very  noisy  about  the 
whole  business. 

Gilda:  I'm  suddenly  glad  about  it  for  the  first  time. 
Do  you  want  some  jam  with  that? 

Otto:  What  sort  of  jam  is  it? 

Gilda:  Strawberry,  I  think. 

Otto:  Of  course,  I'm  used  to  having  dark  plum  with 
rice  pudding,  but  I'll  make  do  with  strawberry. 

Gilda:  I'll  get  it! 

She  goes  into  the  kitchen.    The  telephone  rings. 
Otto  answers  it. 

Otto  {at  telephone):  Hallo! — Hallo — yes,  speaking. — 
Didn't  you  recognize  my  voice? — How  absurd!  It  must 
be  a  bad  line. — Dinner  on  the  seventh?    Yes,  I  should 

{67] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

love  to. — You  don't  mind  if  I  come  as  Marie  Antoinette, 
do  you?  I  have  to  go  to  a  fancy  dress  ball. — Where? 
Oh,  my  aunt  is  giving  it — yes,  in  a  bad  house,  she  runs 
a  whole  chain  of  them,  you  know! — Thank  you  so 
much. 

He  hangs  up  the  telephone. 

Gilda  {reentering):  I  put  it  into  a  glass  dish.  Who 
was  that? 

Otto:  Somebody  called  Brevell,  Lady  Brevell.  She 
wants  Leo  to  dine  on  the  seventh.     I  accepted. 

Gilda:  Good!  You  can  both  go.  I'm  sure  she'd  be 
delighted. 

Otto  {sitting  down  again) :  What!    No  cream? 

Gilda:  It  was  a  delusion  about  the  cream.  I  thought 
there  was  a  lot,  but  there  isn't  a  drop. 

Otto:  I  think  you've  improved  in  looks  really  with  the 
passing  of  the  years. 

Gilda:  How  sweet,  Otto!    I'm  so  pleased. 

Otto:  Your  skin,  for  instance.  Your  skin's  much 
better. 

Gilda:  It  ought  to  be,  I've  been  taking  a  lot  of  trouble 
with  it. 

Otto:  What  sort  of  trouble? 

Gilda:  Oh,  just  having  it  pushed  and  rubbed  and 
slapped  about. 

Otto:  Funny,  how  much  in  love  with  you  I  was! 

Gilda  f  We'll  have  a  good  laugh  about  it  when  you've 
finished  your  pudding. 

Otto:  What's  happened  to  Ernest? 

Gilda:  He's  been  away,  too,  a  long  way  away;  he 
went  on  a  world  cruise  with  a  lot  of  old  ladies  in  straw 
hats! 

[68] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto:  Dear  little  Ernest! 

Gilda:  I  saw  him  a  few  weeks  ago,  then  he  went  back 
to  Paris. 

Otto:  An  odd  life.    Sterile,  don't  you  think? 

Gilda:  You've  certainly  emancipated  yourself  into  a 
grand  complacency. 

Otto:  If  you're  unkind  to  me,  I  shall  go  back  to  the 
Carlton. 

Gilda:  Have  you  got  a  suite,  or  just  a  common  bed- 
room and  bath? 

Otto:  Darling,  I  do  love  you  so  very  much! 

Gilda:  A  nice  comfortable  love,  without  heart  throbs. 

Otto:  Are  you  trying  to  lure  me  to  your  wanton  bed? 

Gilda:  What  would  you  do  if  I  did? 

Otto:  Probably  enjoy  it  very  much. 

Gilda:  I  doubt  if  I  should. 

Otto:  Have  I  changed  so  dreadfully? 

Gilda  (maliciously) :  It  isn't  you  that's  changed — it's 
time  and  experience  and  new  circumstances! 

Otto  (rising):  I've  finished  my  supper.  It  wasn't 
very  good  but  it  sufficed.  I  should  now  like  a  whiskey 
and  soda. 

Gilda:  It's  in  that  thing  over  there. 

Otto  (getting  it  out) :  It  is  a  thing,  isn't  it?  Do  you 
want  one? 

Gilda:  No,  I  don't  think  so. 

Otto:  Just  a  little  one? 

Gilda:  All  right. 

Otto  (pouring  them  out):  If  we  were  bored,  we  could 
always  go  to  the  pictures,  couldn't  we? 

Gilda:  It's  too  late;  we  shouldn't  get  in  to  anything 
that's  worth  seeing. 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto:  Oh,  how  disappointing!  How  very,  very,  very 
disappointing! 

Gilda:  Personally,  I'm  enjoying  myself  here. 

Otto  (handing  her  her  drink) :  Are  you,  indeed? 

Gilda:  Yes.    This  measured  skirmishing  is  delightful. 

Otto:  Be  careful,  won't  you?  I  do  implore  you  to  be 
careful! 

Gilda:  I  never  was.    Why  should  I  start  now? 

Otto  (raising  his  glass) :  I  salute  your  spirit  of  defiance, 
my  dearest. 

Gilda  (raising  her  glass) :  Yours,  too. 

Otto  (shaking  his  head):  A  bad  business;  a  very  bad 
business. 

Gilda:  Love  among  the  artists. 

Otto  :  Love  among  anybody. 

Gilda:  Perhaps  not  love,  exactly.  Something  a  little 
below  it  and  a  little  above  it,  but  something  terribly 
strong. 

Otto:  Meaning  this? 

Gilda:  Of  course.    What  else? 

Otto:  We  should  have  principles  to  hang  on  to,  you 
know.  This  floating  about  without  principles  is  so  very 
dangerous. 

Gilda:  Life  is  for  living. 

Otto:  You  accused  me  of  being  too  sure.  It's  you 
who  are  sure  now. 

Gilda:  Sure  of  what? 

Otto  :  Sure  that  I  want  you. 

Gilda:  Don't  you? 

Otto:  Of  course  I  do. 

Gilda:  Keep  away,  then,  a  minute,  and  let  me  look  at 
you  all  over  again. 

[70] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Otto:  I  used  to  sit  on  the  top  deck  of  that  freighter, 
and  shut  my  eyes  and  see  you  standing  there,  just  like 
you  are  now. 

Gilda  :  Good  old  romance,  bobbing  up  again  and  wrap- 
ping up  our  crudities  in  a  few  veils! 

Otto:  Shut  up!    Don't  talk  like  that. 

Gilda:  I'm  not  nearly  as  afraid  as  you  are. 

Otto  :  You  haven't  got  so  much  to  lose. 

Gilda:  How  do  you  know?  You've  forgotten  every- 
thing about  me — the  real  me.  That  dim  figure  you  con- 
jured up  under  your  damned  tropic  stars  was  an  illusion, 
a  misty  ghost,  scratched  out  of  a  few  memories,  inac- 
curate, untrue — nothing  to  do  with  me  in  any  way.  This 
is  me,  now!  Take  a  good  look  and  see  if  you  can  tell 
what  I  have  to  lose  in  the  game,  or  to  win,  either — 
perhaps  you  can  tell  that,  too!  Can  you?  Can 
you? 

Otto  :  You  look  so  terribly  sweet  when  you're  angry. 

Gilda:  Another  illusion.    I'm  not  sweet. 

Otto:  Those  were  only  love  words.  You  mustn't  be 
so  crushing.  How  are  we  to  conduct  this  revivalist 
meeting  without  love  words? 

Gilda:  Let's  keep  them  under  control. 

Otto:  I  warn  you  it's  going  to  be  very  difficult. 
You've  worked  yourself  up  into  a  frenzy  of  sophistication. 
You've  decided  on  being  calculating  and  disillusioned 
and  brazen,  even  slightly  coarse  over  the  affair.  That's 
all  very  well,  but  how  long  is  it  going  to  last?  That's 
what  I  ask  myself.  How  long  is  it  going  to  last — this 
old  wanton  mood  of  yours? 

Gilda  {breaking  down) :  Don't — don't  laugh  at  me. 

Otto:  I  must— a  little. 

l7i) 


Act  h  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda:  It's  an  unfair  advantage.  You've  both  got  it, 
and  you  both  use  it  against  me  mercilessly. 

Otto:  Laugh,  too;  it's  not  so  serious,  really. 

Gilda:  If  I  once  started,  I  should  never  stop.  That's 
a  warning. 

Otto:  Duly  registered. 

Gilda:  What  are  we  going  to  do  about  Leo? 

Otto:  Wait  and  see  what  he's  going  to  do  about  us. 

Gilda:  Haven't  you  got  any  shame  at  all? 

Otto:  Just  about  as  much  as  you  have. 

Gilda:  The  whole  thing's  degrading,  completely  and 
utterly  degrading. 

Otto:  Only  when  measured  up  against  other  people's 
standards. 

Gilda:  Why  should  we  flatter  ourselves  that  we're  so 
tremendously  different? 

Otto  :  Flattery  doesn't  enter  into  it.  We  are  different. 
Our  lives  are  diametrically  opposed  to  ordinary  social 
conventions;  and  it's  no  use  grabbing  at  those  conven- 
tions to  hold  us  up  when  we  find  we're  in  deep  water. 
We've  jilted  them  and  eliminated  them,  and  we've  got  to 
find  our  own  solutions  for  our  own  peculiar  moral  prob- 
lems. 

Gilda:  Very  glib,  very  glib  indeed,  and  very  plausible. 

Otto:  It's  true.  There's  no  sense  in  stamping  about 
and  saying  how  degrading  it  all  is.  Of  course  it's  de- 
grading; according  to  a  certain  code,  the  whole  situation's 
degrading  and  always  has  been.  The  Methodists 
wouldn't  approve  of  us,  and  the  Catholics  wouldn't 
either;  and  the  Evangelists  and  the  Episcopalians  and 
the  Anglicans  and  the  Christian  Scientists — I  don't  sup- 
pose even  the  Polynesian  Islanders  would  think  very 

[72] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

highly  of  us,  but  they  wouldn't  mind  quite  so  much, 
being  so  far  away.  They  could  all  club  together — the 
whole  lot  of  them — and  say  with  perfect  truth,  according 
to  their  lights,  that  we  were  loose-living,  irreligious,  un- 
moral degenerates,  couldn't  they? 

Gilda  {meekly) :  Yes,  Otto,  I  expect  so. 

Otto:  But  the  whole  point  is,  it's  none  of  their  busi- 
ness. We're  not  doing  any  harm  to  anyone  else.  We're 
not  peppering  the  world  with  illegitimate  children.  The 
only  people  we  could  possibly  mess  up  are  ourselves,  and 
that's  our  lookout.  It's  no  use  you  trying  to  decide 
which  you  love  best,  Leo  or  me,  because  you  don't  know! 
At  the  moment,  it's  me,  because  you've  been  living  with 
Leo  for  a  long  time  and  I've  been  away.  A  gay,  ironic 
chance  threw  the  three  of  us  together  and  tied  our  lives 
into  a  tight  knot  at  the  outset.  To  deny  it  would  be 
ridiculous,  and  to  unravel  it  impossible.  Therefore,  the 
only  thing  left  is  to  enjoy  it  thoroughly,  every  rich  mo- 
ment of  it,  every  thrilling  second 

Gilda:  Come  off  your  soap  box,  and  stop  ranting! 

Otto  :  I  want  to  make  love  to  you  very  badly  indeed, 
please!  I've  been  lonely  for  a  long  time  without  you; 
now  I've  come  back,  and  I'm  not  going  to  be  lonely  any 
more.    Believe  me,  loneliness  is  a  mug's  game. 

Gilda:  The  whole  thing's  a  mug's  game. 

Otto:  You're  infinitely  lovely  to  me,  darling,  and  so 
very  necessary.  The  circle  has  swung  round,  and  it's 
my  turn  again — that's  only  fair,  isn't  it? 

Gilda:  I — I  suppose  so. 

Otto:  If  you  didn't  want  me,  it  would  be  different,  but 
you  do — you  do,  my  dearest  dear! — I  can  see  it  in  your 
eyes.    You  want  me  every  bit  as  much  as  I  want  you! 

173) 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda  {with  a  little  smile) :  Yes,  every  bit. 
Otto:  This  is  a  moment  to  remember,  all  right. 
Scribble  it  onto  your  heart;  a  flicker  of  ecstasy  sand- 
wiched between  yesterday  and  tomorrow — something  to 
be  recaptured  in  the  future  without  illusion,  perfect  in 
itself!  Don't  let's  forget  this — whatever  else  happens, 
don't  let's  forget  this. 

Gilda:  How  easy  it  all  seems  in  this  light. 
Otto:  What  small  perverse  meanness  in  you  forbids 
you  to  walk  round  the  sofa  to  me? 

Gilda:  I  couldn't  move,  if  the  house  was  on  fire! 
Otto:  I  believe  it  is.    To  hell  with  the  sofa! 

He  vaults  over  it  and  takes  her  in  his  arms.     They 
stand  holding  each  other  closely  and  gradually  subside 
onto  the  sofa. 
Otto  {kissing  her) :  Hvordan  staar  det  til! 
Gilda  {blissfully) :  What's  that,  darling? 
Otto:  "How  do  you  do?"  in  Norwegian. 
The  curtain  slowly  falls. 


END  OE  ACT  TWO:    SCENE  2 


[74\ 


ACT  TWO 

Scene  III 


ACT  TWO:  Scene  III 

The  scene  is  the  same.    It  is  about  ten-thirty  the  next 
morning. 

As  the  curtain  rises,  Miss  Hodge  shows  Ernest 
Friedman  into  the  room. 

Miss    Hodge:  I    will    tell    madam — miss — madam 
you're  here,  sir. 
Ernest:  Why  so  much  confusion,  Miss  Hodge? 
Miss  Hodge  :  I  was  only  told  last  night,  sir,  that — er, 

well — that — er 

Ernest:  Oh,  I  see. 

Miss  Hodge  :  It's  a  bit  muddling  at  first,  in  a  manner 
of  speaking,  but  I  shall  get  used  to  it. 
Ernest  :  I'm  sure  you  will. 

Miss  Hodge  goes  into  the  bedroom,  and  returns 
again  in  a  moment  with  very  pursed-up  lips. 
Miss  Hodge  (coldly) :  She  will  be  in  in  a  moment,  sir. 
Miss  Hodge  goes  into  the  kitchen  and  slams  the 
door.    Ernest  looks  after  her  in  some  astonishment. 

Gilda  enters.    She  is  fully  dressed,  wearing  a  hat 
and  coat. 
Gilda  (with  tremendous  gaiety) :  Ernest !    What  a  sur- 
prise! 
Ernest:  What's  the  matter  with  Miss  Hodge? 
Gilda:  The    matter    with    her?    I    don't    know— I 
haven't  examined  her. 

\77\ 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Ernest  :  It  was  foolish  of  you  to  tell  her  you  and  Leo 
weren't  married. 

Gilda:  It  slipped  out;  I'd  forgotten  she  didn't  know. 
Have  you  come  from  Paris? 

Ernest:  Yes,  last  night.  There's  been  a  slight  argu- 
ment going  on  for  weeks. 

Gilda:  Argument?    What  kind  of  an  argument? 

Ernest:  One  of  those  Holbein  arguments. 

Gilda:  Somebody  said  it  wasn't,  I  suppose? 

Ernest:  Yes,  that's  it. 

Gilda:  Was  it? 

Ernest:  In  my  humble  opinion,  yes. 

Gilda:  Did  your  humble  opinion  settle  it? 

Ernest:  I  hope  so. 

Gilda:  Admirable.  Quiet,  sure,  perfect  conviction — 
absolutely  admirable. 

Ernest:  Thank  you,  Gilda.  Don't  imagine  that  the 
irony  in  your  tone  escaped  me. 

Gilda:  That  wasn't  irony;  it  was  envy. 

Ernest:  It's  high  time  you  stopped  envying  me. 

Gilda:  I  don't  think  I  ever  shall. 

Ernest:  How's  Leo? 

Gilda:  Not  very  well. 

Ernest:  What's  wrong  with  him? 

Gilda:  Tummy;  he's  had  an  awful  night.  He  didn't 
close  an  eye  until  about  five,  but  he's  fast  asleep  now. 

Ernest:  I'm  sorry.  I  wanted  to  say  good-bye  to  you 
both. 

Gilda:  Good-bye? 

Ernest:  I'm  going  back  to  Paris  this  afternoon  and 
sailing  for  America  on  Wednesday. 

Gilda:  You  do  flip  about,  don't  you,  Ernest? 

[>] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Ernest:  Not  any  more.  I've  decided  to  live  in  New- 
York  permanently.  IVe  been  angling  for  a  particular 
penthouse  for  years  and  now  I've  got  it. 

Gilda:  How  lovely.     Is  it  very  high? 

Ernest:  About  thirty  floors. 

Gilda  {gaily) :  Do  you  want  a  housekeeper? 

Ernest:  Yes,  badly.    Will  you  come? 

Gilda:  Perhaps. 
She  laughs. 

Ernest:  You  seem  very  gay  this  morning. 

Gilda:  I'm  always  gay  on  Sundays.  There's  some- 
thing intoxicating  about  Sunday  in  London. 

Ernest:  It's  excellent  about  the  play.  I  read  all  the 
reviews. 

Gilda:  Yes,  it's  grand.  It  ought  to  run  for  years  and 
years  and  years  and  years  and  years! 

Ernest:  I  suppose  Leo's  delighted. 

Gilda:  Absolutely  hysterical.  I  think  that's  what's 
upset  his  stomach.  He  was  always  oversensitive,  you 
know;  even  in  Paris  in  the  old  days  he  used  to  roll  about 
in  agony  at  the  least  encouragement,  don't  you  remem- 
ber? 

Ernest:  No,  I  can't  say  that  I  do. 

Gilda:  That's  because  you're  getting  a  bit  "gaga," 
darling!  You've  sold  too  many  pictures  and  made  too 
much  money  and  travelled  too  much.  That  world 
cruise  was  a  fatal  mistake.  I  thought  so  at  the  time,  but 
I  didn't  say  anything  about  it,  because  I  didn't  want  to 
upset  you.  But  going  round  in  a  troupe,  with  all  those 
tatty  old  girls,  must  have  been  very,  very  bad  for  you. 
I  expected  every  day  to  get  a  wire  from  somewhere  or 
other  saying  you'd  died  of  something  or  other. 

[79] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Ernest:  Do  stop,  you're  making  me  giddy. 

Gilda:  Perhaps  you'd  like  a  little  Sherry? 

Ernest:  No,  thank  you. 

Gilda:  It's  very  good  Sherry;  dry  as  a  bone! 

Ernest:  You  seem  to  me  to  be  in  a  very  strange 
mood,  Gilda. 

Gilda:  I've  never  felt  better  in  my  life.  Ups  and 
downs!  My  life  is  one  long  convulsive  sequence  of  Ups 
and  Downs.    This  is  an  Up — at  least,  I  think  it  is. 

Ernest:  You're  sure  it's  not  nervous  collapse? 

Gilda:  I  never  thought  of  that;  it's  a  very  good  idea. 
I  shall  have  a  nervous  collapse! 

Ernest:  Will  you  ever  change,  I  wonder?  Will  you 
ever  change  into  a  quieter,  more  rational  person? 

Gilda:  Why  should  I? 

Ernest:  What's  wrong  now? 

Gilda:  Wrong!  What  could  be  wrong?  Everything's 
right.  Righter  than  it's  ever  been  before.  God's  in  His 
heaven,  all's  right  with  the  world — I  always  thought 
that  was  a  remarkably  silly  statement,  didn't  you? 

Ernest:  Unreasoning  optimism  is  always  slightly 
silly,  but  it's  a  great  comfort  to,  at  least,  three  quarters 
of  the  human  race. 

Gilda:  The  human  race  is  a  let-down,  Ernest;  a  bad, 
bad  let-down!  I'm  disgusted  with  it.  It  thinks  it's 
progressed  but  it  hasn't;  it  thinks  it's  risen  above  the 
primeval  slime  but  it  hasn't — it's  still  wallowing  in  it! 
It's  still  clinging  to  us,  clinging  to  our  hair  and  our  eyes 
and  our  souls.  We've  invented  a  few  small  things  that 
make  noises,  but  we  haven't  invented  one  big  thing  that 
creates  quiet,  endless  peaceful  quiet — something  to  pull 
over  us  like  a  gigantic  eiderdown;  something  to  deaden 

[So] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

the  sound  of  our  emotional  yellings  and  screechings  and 
suffocate  our  psychological  confusions 

Ernest  {weakly) :  I  think,  perhaps,  I  would  like  a  glass 
of  Sherry  after  all. 

Gilda  (going  to  the  "thing"):  It's  all  right,  Ernest, 
don't  be  frightened!  You're  always  a  safety  valve  for 
me.  I  think,  during  the  last  few  years,  I've  screamed  at 
you  more  than  anyone  else  in  the  world. 

She  hands  him  the  bottle. 
Here  you  are. 

Ernest  (looking  at  it) :  This  is  brandy. 

Gilda:  So  it  is.    How  stupid  of  me. 
She  finds  the  Sherry  and  two  glasses. 
Here  we  are! 

Ernest  (putting  the  brandy  bottle  on  the  desk) :  I'm  not 
sure  that  I  find  it  very  comfortable,  being  a  safety  valve! 

Gilda:  It's  the  penalty  you  pay  for  being  sweet  and 
sympathetic,  and  very  old  indeed. 

Ernest  (indignantly) :  I'm  not  very  old  indeed! 

Gilda:  Only  in  wisdom  and  experience,  darling. 
She  pours  out  Sherry  for  them  both. 
Here's  to  you,  Ernest,  and  me,  too! 
They  both  drink. 

Ernest:  Now,  then? 

Gilda:  Now  then,  what? 

Ernest:  Out  with  it! 

Gilda:  Take  my  advice,  my  dear;  run  like  a  stag — be 
fleet  of  foot!    Beat  it! 

Ernest:  Why? 

Gilda:  I'm  a  lone  woman.    I'm  unattached.   I'm  free. 

Ernest:  Oh!    Oh,  are  you,  really! 

Gilda:  I'm  cured.    I'm  not  a  prisoner  any  more. 

[81] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

I've  let  myself  out.  This  is  a  day  of  great  exaltation  for 
me. 

Ernest:  I'm  sure  I'm  delighted  to  hear  it. 

Gilda  (with  the  suspicion  of  a  catch  in  her  voice) :  I'm 
not  needed  any  more — I'm  going. 

Ernest  :  Where  are  you  going? 

Gilda:  I  haven't  the  faintest  idea.  The  world  is 
wide,  far  too  wide  and  round,  too.  I  can  scamper  round 
and  round  it,  like  a  white  rat  in  a  cage! 

Ernest:  That  will  be  very  tiring. 

Gilda:  Not  so  tiring  as  staying  still;  at  least,  I  might 
preserve  the  illusion  that  I'm  getting  somewhere. 

Ernest  (prosaically) :  Have  you  had  a  row  with  Leo? 

Gilda:  No;  I  haven't  had  a  row  with  anyone.  I've 
just  seen  the  light  suddenly.  I  saw  it  last  night.  The 
survival  of  the  fittest,  that's  the  light.  Didn't  you 
know? 

Ernest:  I  think,  perhaps,  I  should  understand  better 
if  you  spoke  in  Russian. 

Gilda:  Or  Norwegian.  There's  a  fascinating  language 
for  you ! 

Ernest  :  I  believe  there  is  a  very  nice  nursing  home  in 
Manchester  Street. 

Gilda  (taking  a  note  out  of  her  bag) :  You  see  this? 

Ernest:  Yes. 

Gilda:  It's  for  Leo. 

Ernest  :  To  read  when  he  wakes  up? 

Gilda:  Yes.    If  he  ever  wakes  up. 

Ernest:  You  haven't  poisoned  him,  have  you? 

Gilda:  No;  but  he's  nearly  poisoned  me!  An  insidi- 
ous, dreary  sort  of  poison,  a  lymphatic  poison,  turning  me 
slowly  into  a  cow. 

[82] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Ernest  {laughing) :  My  poor  Gilda! 

Gilda  (propping  it  up  against  the  brandy  bottle) :  I  shall 
leave  it  here. 

Ernest:  Pity  there  isn't  a  pin  cushion. 

Gilda:  I  expect  you  think  I'm  being  overdramatic? 

Ernest:  Not  any  more  than  usual. 

Gilda:  Well,  I'm  not.  I'm  perfectly  calm  inside. 
Cold  as  steel. 

Ernest:  Can  one  be  exalted  and  cold  as  steel  at  the 
same  time? 

Gilda  :  I  can.  I  can  be  lots  of  things  at  the  same  time ; 
it  becomes  a  great  bore  after  a  while.  In  the  future,  I 
intend  to  be  only  one  thing. 

Ernest:  That  being ? 

Gilda:  Myself,  Ernest.  My  unadulterated  self!  My- 
self, without  hangings,  without  trimmings,  unencumbered 
by  the  winding  tendrils  of  other  people's  demands 

Ernest:  That  was  very  nicely  put. 

Gilda:  You  can  laugh  at  me  as  much  as  you  like.  I 
give  everybody  free  permission  to  laugh  at  me.  I  can 
laugh  at  myself,  too,  now — for  the  first  time,  and  enjoy  it. 

Ernest:  Can  you? 

Gilda:  Yes;  isn't  it  lovely? 

Ernest:  I  congratulate  you. 

Gilda:  I'm  glad  you  suddenly  appeared  this  morning 
to  say  good-bye — very  appropriate!  It's  a  day  of  good- 
byes— the  air's  thick  with  them.  You  have  a  tremen- 
dous sense  of  the  "right  moment,"  Ernest.  It's  wonder- 
ful. You  pop  up  like  a  genie  out  of  a  bottle,  just  to 
be  in  at  the  death!  You  really  ought  to  have  been  a 
priest. 

Ernest:  Are  you  really  serious?  Are  you  really  going? 

[S3] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Gilda:  I've  never  been  more  serious  in  my  life.  Of 
course  I'm  going — I've  got  to  learn  a  few  things  while 
there's  still  time — who  knows,  I  might  even  learn  to  be 
an  artist!  Just  think  of  that!  And  even  if  I  can't  quite 
achieve  such — such  splendour,  there  are  other  lessons  for 
me.  There's  the  lesson  of  paddling  my  own  canoe,  for 
instance — not  just  weighing  down  somebody  else's  and 
imagining  I'm  steering  it! 

Ernest  :  Oh,  I  see.    I  see  it  all  now. 

Gilda:  No,  you  don't — not  all;  just  a  little,  perhaps, 
but  not  all. 

Ernest:  Where  are  you  going,  really? 

Gilda:  First,  to  a  hotel,  to  make  a  few  plans. 

Ernest:  You  can  take  over  my  room  at  the  Carlton, 
if  you  like.    I'm  leaving  today. 

Gilda  {laughing  hysterically):  The  Carlton!  Oh,  no, 
Ernest,  not  the  Carlton! 

Ernest:  Why,  what's  the  matter  with  it? 

Gilda:  It's  too  big  and  pink  and  grand  for  me.  I 
want  a  decayed  hotel;  gentle  and  sad  and  a  little  bit 
under  the  weather. 

Ernest:  And  afterwards? 

Gilda:  Paris — no,  not  Paris — Berlin.  I'm  very  at- 
tached to  Berlin. 

Ernest:  Are  you  sure  you're  wise?  This  is  rather — 
well,  rather  drastic,  isn't  it? 

Gilda  {quietly) :  I'm  quite  sure. 

Ernest:  I  won't  try  to  dissuade  you,  then. 

Gilda:  No,  don't.  It  wouldn't  do  any  good.  I'm 
quite  determined. 

Ernest:  I  have  an  instinctive  distrust  of  sudden  im« 
pulses. 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Gilda:  I'll  fool  you  yet!    I'll  make  you  eat  your 
damned  skepticism! 
Ernest  (smiling):  Sorry! 
Gilda:  Good-bye,  Ernest.    I'm  going  now. 
Ernest:  You'll  be  very  lonely.    Aren't  you  afraid? 
Gilda:  I  can  bear  it.    I've  been  lonely  before. 
Ernest:  Not  for  a  long  while. 

Gilda:  Recently,  quite — quite  recently.    Loneliness 
doesn't  necessarily  mean  being  by  yourself. 
Ernest  (gently) :  Very  well,  dear. 
Gilda  (suddenly  flinging  her  arms  round  his  neck): 
You're  very  tender  and  very  kind  and  I'm  tremendously 
grateful  to  you!    Come  on,  let's  go. 
Ernest:  Haven't  you  got  any  bags  or  anything? 
Gilda:  I've  packed  a  dressing  case  with  all  my  im- 
mediate wants;  I  shall  get  everything  else  new,  brand 

new 

She  goes  quietly  to  the  bedroom  door  and  gets  a 
dressing  case,  which  she  has  left  just  behind  it, 
I'll  drop  you  off  at  the  Carlton,  and  take  your  taxi  on. 
Ernest:  Is  he  asleep? 
Gilda:  Fast  asleep.    Come  on! 

They  go  out  into  the  hall.  Suddenly  Gilda  is 
heard  to  say,  "Just  a  moment,  I've  forgotten  some- 
thingl" 

She  comes  quickly  back  into  the  room,  takes  another 
letter  out  of  her  bag  and  props  it  up  on  the  desk.  Then 
she  goes  out. 

The  front  door  is  heard  to  slam  very  loudly. 
After  a  moment  or  two  the  telephone  rings;  it  goes  on 
ringing  until  Miss  Hodge  comes  out  of  the  kitchen 
and  answers  it. 

{85] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Miss  Hodge  (at  telephone) :  'Alio,  'alio ! — What? — No, 
Vs  not — Vs  away. — All  right! — Not  at  all. 

She  slams  down  the  telephone  and  goes  back  into  the 
kitchen.  Otto  comes  out  of  the  bedroom.  He  is  wear- 
ing  a  dressing  gown  and  pyjamas  belonging  to  Leo, 
and  looks  very  sleepy.  He  finds  a  cigarette  and  lights 
it;  then  goes  to  the  kitchen  door. 
Otto  (calling):  Gilda! — Gilda,  where  are  you? 

Miss  Hodge  appears.    Her  face  grim  with  disap- 
proval. 
Miss  Hodge:  She's  gone  h'out. 
Otto  (startled):  Oh!    Did  she  say  where? 
Miss  Hodge:  She  did  not. 
Otto:  What's  the  time? 
Miss  Hodge:  H'eleven. 

Otto  (pleasantly):    We  met  last  night  on  the  door- 
step; do  you  remember? 
Miss  Hodge:  Yes,  I  remember  all  right. 
Otto:  It  was  very  kind  of  you  to  let  me  in. 
Miss  Hodge:  I  didn't  know  you  was  going  to  stay  all 
night. 
Otto:  I  wasn't  sure,  myself. 
Miss  Hodge:  A  pretty  thing! 
Otto:  I  beg  your  pardon? 

Miss  Hodge:  I  said,  "A  pretty  thing"  and  I  meant 
"A  pretty  thing" — nice  goings  on! 
Otto  (amiably) :  Very  nice,  thank  you. 
Miss  Hodge  :  I'm  a  respectable  woman. 
Otto  :  Never  mind. 

Miss  Hodge  :  I  don't  mind  a  little  fun  every  now  and 
then  among  friends,  but  I  do  draw  the  line  at  looseness! 
Otto:  You're  making  a  mistake,  Miss — Miss ? 

[86] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Miss  Hodge:  Me  name's  'Odge. 
Otto:  You're  making  a  mistake,  Miss  Odge. 
Miss  Hodge:  'Ow  do  you  mean? 
Otto:  You  are  making  a  mistake  in  daring  to  disap- 
prove of  something  that  has  nothing  to  do  with  you  what- 
ever. 
Miss  Hodge  (astounded):  Well,  I  never! 
Otto  :  Please  go  away,  and  mind  your  own  business. 
Miss  Hodge,  with  a  gasp  of  fury,  flounces  off 

into  the  kitchen.    Otto  comes  down  to  the  sofa  and  lies 

on  it  with  his  back  towards  the  door,  blowing  smoke 

rings  into  the  air. 

The  door  opens  and  Leo  creeps  into  the  room.    He 

can  only  see  the  cigarette  smoke,  Otto's  head  being 

hidden  by  the  cushion. 
Leo:  Hallo,  darling!    I  couldn't  bear  it  any  more,  so 
I've  come  back. 
Otto  (sitting  up  slowly) :  Hello,  Leo. 
Leo:  You! 

Otto:  Yes.    I  couldn't  bear  it  any  longer,  either,  so 
I've  come  back. 
Leo:  Where  have  you  come  from? 
Otto:  New  York. 
Leo  :  When — when  did  you  arrive? 
Otto:  Last  night. 

Leo  :  Why — why  aren't  you  dressed? 
Otto  :  I've  only  just  got  up. 
Leo  :  You  stayed  here? 
Otto:  Yes. 

Leo  (slowly):  With  Gilda? 
Otto:  Yes. 
Leo:  I  see. 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto:  It  wouldn't  be  any  use  lying,  would  it?  Pre- 
tending I  didn't? 

Leo:  No  use  at  all. 

Otto:  I'm  not  even  sorry,  Leo,  except  for  hurting  you. 

Leo:  Where  is  Gilda? 

Otto  :  She's  gone  out. 

Leo:  Out!    Why?    Where's  she  gone  to? 

Otto:  I  don't  know. 

Leo  (turning  away) :  How  vile  of  you !  How  unspeak- 
ably vile  of  you  both! 

Otto:  It  was  inevitable. 

Leo  (contemptuously):  Inevitable! 

Otto:  I  arrived  unexpectedly;  you  were  away;  Gilda 
was  alone.  I  love  her;  I've  always  loved  her — I've  never 
stopped  for  a  minute,  and  she  loves  me,  too. 

Leo:  What  about  me? 

Otto:  I  told  you  I  was  sorry  about  hurting  you. 

Leo  :  Gilda  loves  me. 

Otto:  I  never  said  she  didn't. 

Leo  (hopelessly) :  What  are  we  to  do?  What  are  we  to 
do  now? 

Otto:  Do  you  know,  I  really  haven't  the  faintest 
idea. 

Leo:  You're  laughing  inside.  You're  thoroughly 
damned  well  pleased  with  yourself,  aren't  you? 

Otto:  I  don't  know.     I  don't  know  that  either. 

Leo  (savagely) :  You  are!  I  can  see  it  in  your  eyes — so 
much  triumph — such  a  sweet  revenge! 

Otto  :  It  wasn't  anything  to  do  with  revenge. 

Leo:  It  was.  Of  course  it  was — secretly  thought  out, 
planned  for  ages — infinitely  mean ! 

Otto:  Shut  up!    And  don't  talk  such  nonsense. 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo:  Why  did  you  do  it,  then?  Why  did  you  come 
back  and  break  everything  up  for  me? 

Otto:  I  came  back  to  see  you  both.  It  was  a  sur- 
prise. 

Leo:  A  rather  cruel  surprise,  and  brilliantly  successful. 
You  should  be  very  happy. 

Otto  (sadly) :  Should  I? 

Leo:  Perhaps  I  should  be  happy,  too;  you've  set  me 
free  from  something. 

Otto:  What? 

Leo  (haltingly):  The — feeling  I  had  for  you — some- 
thing very  deep,  I  imagined  it  was,  but  it  couldn't  have 
been,  could  it — now  that  it  has  died  so  easily. 

Otto:  I  said  all  that  to  you  in  Paris.  Do  you  remem- 
ber? I  thought  it  was  true  then,  just  as  you  think  it's 
true  now. 

Leo:  It  is  true. 

Otto:  Oh,  no,  it  isn't. 

Leo:  Do  you  honestly  believe  I  could  ever  look  at  you 
again,  as  a  real  friend? 

Otto:  Until  the  day  you  die. 

Leo:  Shut  up!  It's  too  utterly  beastly — the  whole 
thing. 

Otto:  It's  certainly  very,  very  uncomfortable. 

Leo:  Is  Gilda  going  to  leave  me?  To  go  away  with 
you? 

Otto:  Do  you  want  her  to? 

Leo:  Yes,  I  suppose  so,  now. 

Otto:  We  didn't  make  any  arrangement  or  plans. 

Leo:  I  came  back  too  soon.  You  could  have  gone 
away  and  left  a  note  for  me — that  would  have  been  nice 
and  easy  for  you,  wouldn't  it? 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto:  Perhaps  it  would,  really.  I  don't  know  that  I 
should  have  done  it,  though. 

Leo:  Why  not? 

Otto:  If  I  had,  I  shouldn't  have  seen  you  at  all,  and  I 
wanted  to  see  you  very  much. 

Leo:  You  even  wanted  to  see  me,  hating  you  like  this? 
Very  touching! 

Otto:  You're  not  hating  me  nearly  as  much  as  you 
think  you  are.  You're  hating  the  situation :  that's  quite 
different. 

Leo:  You  flatter  yourself . 

Otto:  No.  I'm  speaking  from  experience.  You  for- 
get, I've  been  through  just  what  you're  going  through 
now.  I  thought  I  hated  you  with  all  my  heart  and  soul, 
and  the  force  of  that  hatred  swept  me  away  onto  the 
high  seas,  too  far  out  of  reach  to  be  able  to  come  back 
when  I  discovered  the  truth. 

Leo:  The  truth! 

Otto:  That  no  one  of  us  was  more  to  blame  than  the 
other.  We've  made  our  own  circumstances,  you  and 
Gilda  and  me,  and  we've  bloody  well  got  to  put  up  with 
them! 

Leo  :  I  wish  I  could  aspire  to  such  a  sublime  God's-eye 
view! 

Otto:  You  will — in  time — when  your  acids  have 
calmed  down. 

Leo:  I'd  like  so  very  much  not  to  be  able  to 
feel  anything  at  all  for  a  little.  I'm  desperately 
tired. 

Otto:  You  want  a  change. 

Leo:  It  seems  as  if  I'm  going  to  get  one,  whether  I 
want  it  or  not. 

[90] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto  {laughing):  Oh,  Leo,  you  really  are  very,  very 
tender ! 

Leo:  Don't  laugh!    How  dare  you  laugh!    How  can 
you  laugh ! 

Otto  :  It's  a  good  joke.    A  magnificent  joke. 

Leo  {bitterly) :  A  pity  Gilda  chose  just  that  moment  to 
go  out,  we  could  all  have  enjoyed  it  together. 

Otto  :  Like  we  did  before? 

Leo:  Yes,  like  we  did  before. 

Otto:  And  like  we  shall  again. 

Leo  {vehemently):  No,  never  again — never! 

Otto  :  I  wonder. 

The  telephone  rings.  Leo  goes  over  mechanically 
to  answer  it;  he  lifts  up  the  receiver,  and  as  he  does  so  he 
catches  sight  of  the  two  letters  propped  up  against  the 
brandy  bottle.  He  stares  at  them  and  slowly  lets  the 
receiver  drop  onto  the  desk. 

Leo  {very  quietly) :  Otto. 

Otto:  What  is  it? 

Leo:  Look. 

Otto  comes  over  to  the  desk,  and  they  both  stand 
staring  at  the  letters. 

Otto:  Gilda! 

Leo:  Of  course. 

Otto:  She's  gone!    She's  escaped! 

Leo:  Funny  word  to  use,  "escaped." 

Otto  :  That's  what  she's  done,  all  the  same,  escaped 

Leo  :  The  joke  is  becoming  richer. 

Otto  :  Escaped  from  both  of  us. 

Leo  :  We'd  better  open  them,  I  suppose. 

Otto  {slowly) :  Yes — yes,  I  suppose  we  had. 

They  both  open  the  letters,  in  silence,  and  read  them. 

[9i] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo  {after  a  pause) :  What  does  yours  say? 

Otto   {reading):  " Good-bye,  my  clever  little  dear! 
Thank  you  for  the  keys  of  the  city." 

Leo:  That's  what  mine  says. 

Otto:  I  wonder  where  she's  gone? 

Leo:  I  don't  see  that  that  matters  much. 

Otto:  One  up  to  Gilda! 

Leo:  What  does  she  mean,  "keys  of  the  city"? 

Otto:  A  lot  of  things. 

Leo:  I  feel  rather  sick. 

Otto:  Have  some  Sherry? 

Leo:  That's  brandy. 

Otto:  Better  still. 

He  pours  out  a  glass  and  hands  it  to  Leo. 

Leo  {quietly) :  Thank  you. 

Otto  {pouring  one  out  for  himself) :  I  feel  a  little  sick, 
too. 

Leo:  Do  you  think  she'll  come  back? 

Otto:  No. 

Leo:  She  will — she  must — she  must  come  back! 

Otto:  She  won't.    Not  for  a  long  time. 

Leo  {drinking  his  brandy) :  It's  all  my  fault,  really. 

Otto  {drinking  his) :  Is  it? 

Leo  :  Yes.    I've,  unfortunately,  turned  out  to  be  suc- 
cessful.    Gilda  doesn't  care  for  successful  people. 

Otto:   I  wonder  how  much  we've  lost,  with  the 
years? 

Leo  :  A  lot.    I  think,  practically  everything  now. 

Otto  {thoughtfully):  Love  among  the  artists.    Very 
difficult,  too  difficult. 

Leo  :  Do  you  think  we  could  find  her? 

Otto:  No. 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo:  We  could  try. 

Otto:  Do  you  want  to? 

Leo:  Of  course. 

Otto:  Why?    What  would  be  the  use? 

Leo:  She  might  explain  a  little — a  little  more  clearly. 

Otto:  What  good  would  that  do?  We  know  why  she's 
gone  perfectly  well. 

Leo:  Because  she  doesn't  want  us  any  more. 

Otto:  Because  she  thinks  she  doesn't  want  us  any 
more. 

Leo:  I  suppose  that's  as  good  a  reason  as  any. 

Otto:  Quite. 

Leo:  All  the  same,  I  should  like  to  see  her  just  once- 
just  to  find  out,  really,  in  so  many  words 

Otto  (with  sudden  fury):  So  many  words!  That's 
what's  wrong  with  us!  So  many  words — too  many 
words,  masses  and  masses  of  words,  spewed  about  until 
we're  choked  with  them.  We've  argued  and  probed  and 
dragged  our  entrails  out  in  front  of  one  another  for  years! 
We've  explained  away  the  sea  and  the  stars  and  life  and 
death  and  our  own  peace  of  mind!  I'm  sick  of  this  end- 
less game  of  three-handed,  spiritual  ping-pong — this 
battling  of  our  little  egos  in  one  another's  faces!  Sick  to 
death  of  it !  Gilda's  made  a  supreme  gesture  and  got  out. 
Good  luck  to  her,  I  say!  Good  luck  to  the  old  girl — she 
knows  her  onions! 

Otto  refills  his  glass  and  drains  it  at  a  gulp. 

Leo:  You'll  get  drunk,  swilling  down  all  that  brandy 
on  an  empty  stomach. 

Otto:  Why  not!  What  else  is  there  to  do?  Here, 
have  some  more  as  well. 

He  refills  Leo's  glass  and  hands  it  to  him, 

fan 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo:  All  right!    Here  goes. 
He  drains  his  glass. 
Now,  we  start  fair. 

He  refills  both  their  glasses. 

Otto  (raising  his  glass):  Gilda!     (He  drains  it.) 

Leo  (doing  the  same):  Gilda!     (He  drains  it.) 

Otto:  That's  better,  isn't  it?    Much,  much  better. 

Leo:  Excellent.    We  shall  be  sick  as  dogs! 

Otto  :  Good  for  our  livers. 

Leo:  Good  for  our  immortal  souls. 
He  refills  the  glasses,  and  raises  his. 
Our  Immortal  Souls! 

Otto  (raising  his):  Our  Immortal  Souls! 
They  both  drain  them  to  the  last  drop. 

Leo:  I  might  have  known  it! 

Otto:  What? 

Leo:  That  there  was  going  to  be  a  break.  Everything 
was  running  too  smoothly,  too  well.  I  was  enjoying  all 
the  small  things  too  much. 

Otto:  There's  no  harm  in  enjoying  the  small  things. 

Leo:  Gilda  didn't  want  me  to. 

Otto  :  I  know. 

Leo:  Did  she  tell  you  so? 

Otto  :  Yes,  she  said  she  was  uneasy. 

Leo  :  She  might  have  had  a  little  faith  in  me,  I  think. 
I  haven't  got  this  far  just  to  be  sidetracked  by  a  few 
garlands. 

Otto:  That's  what  I  said  to  her;  I  said  you  wouldn't 
be  touched,  inside. 

Leo  :  How  about  you? 

Otto  :  Catching  up,  Leo !  Popular  portraits  at  popu- 
lar prices. 

[94} 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo  :  Good  work  or  bad  work? 

Otto:  Good.  An  occasional  compromise,  but  es- 
sentials all  right. 

Leo  (with  a  glint  in  his  eye) :  Let's  make  the  most  of 
the  whole  business,  shall  we?  Let's  be  photographed 
and  interviewed  and  pointed  at  in  restaurants!  Let's 
play  the  game  for  what  it's  worth,  secretaries  and  fur 
coats  and  de-luxe  suites  on  transatlantic  liners  at  mini- 
mum rates!  Don't  let's  allow  one  shabby  perquisite  to 
slip  through  our  ringers!  It's  what  we  dreamed  many 
years  ago  and  now  it's  within  our  reach.  Let's  cash  in, 
Otto,  and  see  how  much  we  lose  by  it. 

He  refills  both  glasses  and  hands  one  to  Otto. 
Come  on,  my  boy! 

He  raises  his  glass. 
Success  in  twenty  lessons!     Each  one  more  bitter  than 
the  last !    More  and  better  Success !    Louder  and  funnier 
Success! 

They  both  drain  their  glasses. 

They  put  down  their  glasses,  gasping  slightly. 

Otto  (agreeably):  It  takes  the  breath  away  a  bit, 
doesn't  it? 

Leo:  How  astonished  our  insides  must  be — all  that 
brandy  hurtling  down  suddenly! 

Otto:  On  Sunday,  too. 

Leo:  We  ought  to  know  more  about  our  insides,  Otto. 
We  ought  to  know  why  everything  does  everything. 

Otto:  Machines!  That's  what  we  are,  really — all  of 
us!  I  can't  help  feeling  a  little  discouraged  about  it 
every  now  and  then. 

Leo:  Sheer  sentimentality!  You  shouldn't  feel  dis- 
couraged at  all;  you  should  be  proud. 

[95] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto:  I  don't  see  anything  to  be  proud  about. 

Leo:  That's  because  you  don't  understand;  because 
you're  still  chained  to  stale  illusions.  Science  dispels 
illusions;  you  ought  to  be  proud  to  be  living  in  a  scientific 
age.  You  ought  to  be  proud  to  know  that  you're  a 
minute  cog  in  the  vast  process  of  human  life. 

Otto:  I  don't  like  to  think  I'm  only  a  minute  cog — it 
makes  me  sort  of  sad. 

Leo:  The  time  for  dreaming  is  over,  Otto. 

Otto:  Never!  I'll  never  consent  to  that.  Never,  as 
long  as  I  live!  How  do  you  know  that  science  isn't  a 
dream,  too?    A  monstrous,  gigantic  hoax? 

Leo:  How  could  it  be?    It  proves  everything. 

Otto:  What  does  it  prove?    Answer  me  that! 

Leo  :  Don't  be  silly,  Otto.    You  must  try  not  to  be  silly. 

Otto  {bitterly) :  A  few  facts,  that's  all.  A  few  tawdry 
facts  torn  from  the  universe  and  dressed  up  in  termino- 
logical abstractions! 

Leo:  Science  is  our  only  hope,  the  only  hope  for 
humanity!  We've  wallowed  in  false  mysticism  for  cen- 
turies; we've  fought  and  suffered  and  died  for  foolish 
beliefs,  which  science  has  proved  to  be  as  ephemeral  as 
smoke.  Now  is  the  moment  to  open  our  eyes  fearlessly 
and  look  at  the  truth! 

Otto:  What  is  the  truth? 

Leo  {irritably):  It's  no  use  talking  to  you — you  just 
won't  try  to  grasp  anything!  You're  content  to  go  on 
being  a  romantic  clod  until  the  end  of  your  days. 

Otto  {incensed):  What  about  you?  What  about  the 
plays  you  write?  Turgid  with  romance;  sodden  with 
true  love;  rotten  with  nostalgia! 

Leo  {with  dignity):  There's  no  necessity  to  be  rude 

[96] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

about  my  work— that's  quite  separate,  and  completely 
beside  the  point. 

Otto:  Well,  it  oughtn't  to  be.  It  ought  to  be  abso- 
lutely in  accord  with  your  cold,  incisive,  scientific  view- 
point. If  you're  a  writer  it's  your  duty  to  write  what 
you  think.  If  you  don't  you're  a  cheat — a  cheat  and  a 
hypocrite! 

Leo  {loftily):  Impartial  discussion  is  one  thing,  Otto. 
Personal  bickering  is  another.  I  think  you  should  learn 
to  distinguish  between  the  two. 

Otto:  Let's  have  some  more  brandy. 

Leo:  That  would  be  completely  idiotic. . 

Otto:  Let's  be  completely  idiotic! 

Leo:  Very  well. 

They  both  refill  their  glasses  and  drain  them  in  si- 
lence. 

Otto:  There's  a  certain  furtive  delight  in  doing  some- 
thing consciously  that  you  know  perfectly  well  is  thor- 
oughly contemptible. 

Leo  :  There  is,  indeed. 

Otto:  There  isn't  much  more  left.    Shall  we  finish  it? 

Leo:  Certainly. 

Otto  refills  both  glasses. 

Otto  (handing  Leo  his) :  Now  what? 

Leo:  Now  what  what? 

Otto  (giggling  slightly) :  Don't  keep  on  saying,  what, 
what,  what — it  sounds  ridiculous ! 

Leo:  I  wanted  to  know  what  you  meant  by  "Now 
what"? 

Otto:  Now  what  shall  we  drink  to? 

Leo  (also  giggling) :  Let's  not  drink  to  anything — let's 
just  drink! 

[97] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto  :  All  right. 
He  drinks. 

Leo  (also  drinking):  Beautiful! 

Otto  :  If  Gilda  came  in  now  she'd  be  surprised  all  right, 
wouldn't  she? 

Leo:  She'd  be  so  surprised,  she'd  fall  right  over  back- 
wards! 

Otto:  So  should  we. 

They  both  laugh  immoderately  at  this. 

Leo  {^wiping  his  eyes)'.  Oh,  dear!  Oh,  dear,  oh,  dear, 
how  silly!    How  very,  very  silly. 

Otto  (with  sudden  change  of  mood) :  She'll  never  come 
back.    Never. 

Leo:  Yes,  she  will — when  we're  very,  very  old,  she'll 
suddenly  come  in — in  a  Bath  chair! 

Otto  (sullenly) :  Damn  fool. 

Leo  (with  slight  belligerence) :  Who's  a  damn  fool? 

Otto:  You  are.  So  am  I.  We  both  are.  We  were 
both  damn  fools  in  the  first  place,  ever  to  have  anything 
to  do  with  her. 

Leo  (admiringly):  You're  awfully  strong,  Otto! 
Much,  much  stronger  than  you  used  to  be. 

Otto:  I've  been  all  over  the  world;  I've  roughed  it — 
that's  what's  made  me  strong.  Every  man  ought  to 
rough  it. 

Leo:  That's  the  trouble  with  civilized  life — it  makes 
you  soft.  I've  been  thinking  that  for  a  long  time.  I've 
been  watching  myself  getting  softer  and  softer  and  softer 
— it's  awful! 

Otto:  You'd  soon  be  all  right  if  you  got  away  from  all 
this  muck. 

Leo:  Yes,  I  know,  but  how? 

[98] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto  (putting  his  arm  around  his  shoulders) :  Get  on  a 
ship,  Leo — never  mind  where  it's  going!  Just  get  on  a 
ship — a  small  ship. 

Leo:  How  small? 

Otto:  Very  small  indeed;  a  freighter. 

Leo:  Is  that  what  you  did? 

Otto:  Yes. 

Leo:  Then  I  will.  Where  do  very  small  ships  sail 
from? 

Otto:  Everywhere — Tilbury,  Hamburg,  Havre 

Leo:  I'm  free!  I've  suddenly  realized  it.  I'm 
free! 

Otto:  So  am  I. 

Leo:  We  ought  to  drink  to  that,  Otto.  It's  something 
worth  drinking  to.  Freedom's  been  lost  to  us  for  a  long, 
long  time  and  now  we've  found  it  again !  Freedom  from 
people  and  things  and  softness!  We  really  ought  to 
drink  to  it. 

Otto  :  There  isn't  any  more  brandy. 

Leo  :  What's  that  over  there? 

Otto:  Where? 

Leo:  On  the  thing. 

Otto  (going  to  it) :  Sherry. 

Leo:  What's  the  matter  with  Sherry? 

Otto  :  All  right. 

He  brings  over  the  bottle  and  fills  their  glasses. 

Leo  (raising  his) :  Freedom! 

Otto  (doing  the  same) :  Freedom^. 
They  both  drink. 

Leo:  Very  insipid. 

Otto:  Tastes  like  brown  paper. 

Leo:  I've  never  tasted  brown  paper. 

[99] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Otto:  Neither  have  I. 

They  roar  with  laughter. 

Leo:  Sherry's  a  very  ludicrous  word,  isn't  it,  when 
you  begin  to  analyze  it? 

Otto:  Any  word's  ludicrous  if  you  stare  at  it  long 
enough.    Look  at  "macaroni." 

Leo:  That's  Italian;  that  doesn't  count. 

Otto:  Well,  " rigmarole"  then,  and  " neophyte"  and 
"haddock." 

Leo:  And  "wimple" — wimple's  the  word  that  gets  me 
down! 

Otto:  What  is  a  wimple? 

Leo:  A  sort  of  mediaeval  megaphone,  made  of  linen. 
Guinevere  had  one. 

Otto:  What  did  she  do  with  it? 

Leo  {patiently) :  Wore  it,  of  course.  What  did  you  think 
she  did  with  it? 

Otto  :  She  might  have  blown  down  it. 

Leo  (with  slight  irritation) :  Anyhow,  it  doesn't  matter, 
does  it? 

Otto  (agreeably) :  Not  in  the  least.  It  couldn't  mat- 
ter less.  I  always  thought  Guinevere  was  tedious, 
wimple  or  no  wimple. 

Leo:  I'm  beginning  to  float  a  little,  aren't  you? 

Otto:  Just  leaving  the  ground.  Give  me  time!  I'm 
just  leaving  the  ground 

Leo:  Better  have  some  more  Sherry. 

Otto:  I'm  afraid  it  isn't  very  good  Sherry. 

Leo  (scrutinizing  the  bottle):  It  ought  to  be  good;  it's 
real  old  Armadildo. 

Otto:  Perhaps  we  haven't  given  it  a  fair  chance. 
He  holds  out  his  glass;  Leo  refills  it  and  his  own. 

[too] 


Act  ii  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo  (raising  his  glass):  Apres  moi  le  deluge! 

Otto:  Apres  both  of  us  the  deluge! 
They  drain  their  glasses. 

Leo:  I  think  I  shall  sit  down  now.  I'm  so  terribly 
sick  of  standing  up. 

Otto:  Human  beings  were  never  meant  to  stand  up, 
in  the  first  place.    It's  all  been  a  grave  mistake. 
They  both  sit  on  the  sofa. 

Leo:  All  what? 

Otto:  All  this  stamping  about. 

Leo:  I  feel  ever  so  much  happier.  I  don't  feel  angry 
with  you  or  with  Gilda  or  with  anybody !  I  feel  sort  of  at 
peace,  if  you  know  what  I  mean. 

Otto  (putting  his  arm  around  him):  Yes,  I  know — I 
know. 

Leo:  Keys  of  the  city,  indeed! 

Otto  :  Lot  of  damned  nonsense. 

Leo:  Too  much  sense  of  drama,  flouncing  off  like 
that 

Otto:  We've  all  got  too  much  sense  of  drama,  but  we 
won't  have  any  more — from  now  onwards,  reason  and 
realism  and  clarity  of  vision. 

Leo:  What? 

Otto  (very  loudly) :  I  said  "  Clarity  of  vision." 

Leo:  I  wouldn't  have  believed  I  could  ever  feel  like 
this  again — so  still  and  calm,  like  a  deep,  deep  pool. 

Otto:  Me,  too — a  deep  pool,  surrounded  with  cool 

green  rushes,  with  the  wind  rustling  through  them 

This  flight  of  fancy  is  disturbed  by  a  faint  hiccup. 

Leo  (resting  his  head  on  Otto's  shoulder):  Will  you 
forgive  me — for — for  everything? 

Otto  (emotionally) :  It's  I  who  should  ask  you  that! 
[ioi] 


Act  n  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  3 

Leo:  I'm  glad  Gilda's  gone,  really — she  was  very 
wearisome  sometimes.     I  shall  miss  her,  though. 

Otto:  We  shall  both  miss  her. 

Leo  :  She's  the  only  really  intelligent  woman  I've  ever 
known. 

Otto:  Brilliant! 

Leo:  She's  done  a  tremendous  lot  for  us,  Otto.  I 
wonder  how  much  we  should  have  achieved  without  her? 

Otto:  Very  little,  I'm  afraid.    Terribly  little. 

Leo:  And  now  she's  gone  because  she  doesn't  want  us 
any  more. 

Otto:  I  think  she  thinks  we  don't  want  her  any  more. 

Leo:  But  we  do,  Otto — we  do 

Otto:  We  shall  always  want  her,  always,  always, 
always 

Leo  {miserably) :  We  shall  get  over  it  in  time,  I  expect, 
but  it  will  take  years. 

Otto:  I'm  going  to  hate  those  years.  I'm  going  to 
hate  every  minute  of  them. 

Leo:  So  am  I. 

Otto:  Thank  God  for  each  other,  anyhow! 

Leo:  That's  true.  We'll  get  along,  somehow — (his 
voice  breaks) — together 

Otto  (struggling  with  his  tears) :  Together- 


Leo  (giving  way  to  his,  and  breaking  down  completely) : 

But  we're  going  to  be  awfully — awfully — lonely 

They  both  sob  hopelessly  on  each  other's  shoulders 
as  the  curtain  slowly  falls. 


END  OF  ACT  TWO:    SCENE  3 

[102] 


ACT  THREE 
Scene  I 


ACT  THREE:  Scene  I 

Nearly  two  years  have  elapsed  since  Act  Two. 

The  scene  is  Ernest  Friedman's  penthouse  in 
New  York.  It  is  an  exquisite  apartment,  luxuriously 
furnished.  Up  stage,  on  the  Right,  are  three  windows 
opening  onto  a  balcony.  These  are  on  an  angle;  below 
them  are  double  doors  leading  into  the  hall.  A  staircase 
climbs  up  the  Left-hand  side  of  the  room,  leading 
through  a  curtained  archway  to  the  bedrooms,  etc. 
Below  the  staircase  there  is  a  door  leading  to  the  serv- 
ants1 quarters. 

When  the  curtain  rises  it  is  about  eleven-thirty  on  a 
summer  night.  The  windows  are  wide  open  and  be- 
yond  the  terrace  can  be  seen  the  many  lights  of  the  city. 
There  is  a  table  set  with  drinks  and  sandwiches,  with, 
below  it,  an  enormous  sofa. 

Voices  are  heard  in  the  hall,  and  Gilda  enters 
with  Grace  Torrence  and  Henry  and  Helen 
Carver.  The  Carvers  are  a  comparatively  young 
married  couple,  wealthy  and  well  dressed.  Grace 
Torrence  is  slightly  older,  a  typical  Europeanized 
New  York  matron.  Gilda  is  elaborately  and  beauti- 
fully gowned.  Her  manner  has  changed  a  good  deal. 
She  is  much  more  still  and  sure  than  before.  A  certain 
amount  of  vitality  has  gone  from  her,  but,  in  its  place, 
there  is  an  aloof  poise  quite  in  keeping  with  her  dress 
and  surroundings.  > 

Uo5\ 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  Who'd  like  a  highball? 

Grace:  We  all  would.    We  all  need  it! 

Gilda:  People  are  wrong  when  they  say  that  the  opera 
isn't  what  it  used  to  be.  It  is  what  it  used  to  be — that's 
what's  wrong  with  it! 

Henry  (going  for  the  drinks) :  Never  again ! 

Gilda:  Is  there  enough  ice  there,  Henry? 

Henry:  Yes,  heaps. 

Helen  (wandering  out  onto  the  terrace):  This  is  the 
most  wonderful  view  I've  ever  seen! 

Henry:  Next  to  ours. 

Helen:  I  like  this  better;  you  can  see  more  of  the 
river. 

Grace:  You  did  all  this,  I  suppose,  Gilda? 

Gilda:  Not  all  of  it;  just  a  few  extras.  Ernest  laid 
the  foundations. 

Grace:  When's  he  coming  back? 

Gilda:  Tomorrow. 

Grace  (wandering  about  the  room) :  It's  lovely. 

Gilda:  I'd  forgotten  you  hadn't  been  here  before. 

Henry:  Here,  Grace.  (He  gives  her  a  drink.) 
Gilda 

Gilda  (taking  one) :  Thanks,  Henry. 

Henry:  Helen,  do  you  want  yours  out  there? 

Helen:  No,  I'll  come  in  for  it. 

She  comes  in,  takes  her  drink,  and  sits  down  on  the 
sofa. 

Grace  (stopping  before  an  antique  chair):  Where  did 
you  get  this? 

Gilda:  Italy.  We  were  motoring  to  Siena,  and  we 
stopped  at  a  little  village  for  lunch  and  there  it  was — just 
waiting  to  be  grabbed. 

[106] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Grace:  You  ought  to  open  a  shop;  with  your  reputa- 
tion you'd  make  a  packet! 

Gilda:  This  is  my  shop,  really.  I  make  quite  enough, 
one  way  and  another. 

Helen:  But  the  things  in  this  room  aren't  for  sale,  are 
they? 

Gilda:  All  except  the  pictures.    Those  are  Ernest's. 

Grace  {laughing):  Then  they  are  for  sale! 

Gilda:  Perhaps.    At  a  price. 

Henry:  And,  oh  boy,  what  a  price!  {To  Helen): 
What  was  the  name  of  that  one  he  sold  Dad? 

Helen:  I  don't  think  it  had  a  name. 

Henry:  The  name  of  the  artist,  I  mean. 

Gilda:  Matisse. 

Henry:  Well,  all  I  can  say  is,  it  ought  to  have  been  a 
double  Matisse  for  that  money! 

Gilda  {smiling) :  Eleven  thousand  dollars,  wasn't  it? 

Henry:  It  was. 

Gilda  {sweetly) :  Your  father  was  very  lucky,  but  then 
he  always  has  been,  hasn't  he? 

Grace:  Bow,  Henry!  Or  fall  down  dead — one  or  the 
other! 

Gilda:  Do  you  want  to  see  over  the  rest  of  it,  Grace? 

Grace:  I  do,  indeed!  I'm  taking  mental  notes,  and  if 
any  of  them  come  out  right,  I'll  send  you  a  handsome 
gift. 

Gilda:  Terrace  first?  Very  nice  line  in  balcony  furni- 
ture, swing  chairs,  striped  awnings,  shrubs  in  pots 

Grace:  I'd  rather  die  than  go  near  the  terrace — it 
makes  me  giddy  from  here. 

Gilda:  I  love  being  high  up. 

Helen:  So  do  I— the  higher  the  better! 

[107} 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Grace:  What  floor  is  this? 

Gilda:  Thirtieth. 

Grace:  I  was  caught  by  fire  once  on  the  sixth  floor;  I 
had  to  be  hauled  down  a  ladder  in  my  nightgown — since 
then  I've  always  lived  on  the  ground  level. 

Helen:  What  about  burglars? 

Grace:  I'd  rather  have  fifty  burglars  than  one  fire. 
What  would  you  do  here  if  there  was  a  fire,  Gilda?  If  it 
started  down  below,  in  the  elevator  shaft  or  something? 

Gilda  (pointing  towards  the  servants'  door) :  Very  nice 
line  in  fire  escapes  just  through  that  door;  perfectly 
equipped,  commodious — there's  even  a  wide  enough 
balustrade  to  slide  down. 

Grace:  One  day  there'll  be  an  earthquake  in  this 
city,  then  all  you  high  livers  will  come  tumbling  down ! 

Henry:  In  that  case,  I'd  rather  be  here  than  on  the 
ground. 

Gilda:  Come  and  see  the  bedrooms. 

Grace:  Higher  still? 

Gilda:  Yes,  higher  still.  You  two  will  be  all  right, 
won't  you? 

Helen:  Of  course. 

Gilda  (leading  the  way  upstairs):  Help  yourself  to 
another  drink,  Henry. 

Henry:  Thanks.    I  will. 

Gilda  and  Grace  disappear  through  the  archway. 

Henry  (at  table) :  Do  you  want  another? 

Helen:  I  haven't  finished  this  one  yet. 

Henry:  Promise  me  one  thing,  Helen? 

Helen:  What? 

Henry:  That  you'll  never  become  a  professional 
decorator. 

[108] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Helen:  Why? 

Henry:  I've  never  met  one  yet  that  wasn't  hard  as 
nails,  and,  my  God,  I've  met  hundreds! 

Helen:  Do  you  think  Gilda's  hard? 

Henry:  Hard!  Look  at  her  eyes.  Look  at  the  way 
she's  piloting  old  Grace  round  the  apartment.  Look  at 
the  way  she  snapped  me  up  over  Dad's  picture! 

Helen:  You  were  rather  awful  about  it. 

Henry  :  So  I  should  think !  Eleven  thousand  bucks  for 
that  daub !  I've  only  found  three  people  who  could  tell  me 
what  it  was  supposed  to  be,  and  they  all  told  me  different. 

Helen:  Art's  not  in  your  line,  Henry. 

Henry:  You  bet  your  sweet  life  it  isn't — not  at  that 
price! 

Helen:  I  like  modern  painting.    I  think  it's  thrilling. 

Henry:  Bunk. 

Helen  (with  superiority):  That's  what  everybody 
always  says  about  new  things.    Look  at  Wagner. 

Henry:  What's  Wagner  got  to  do  with  it? 

Helen:  When  first  his  music  came  out  everyone  said 
it  was  terrible. 

Henry:  That's  jake  with  me! 

Helen  (laughing  patronizingly) :  It's  silly  to  laugh  at 
things  just  because  you  don't  understand  them. 

Henry:  You've  been  around  too  much  lately,  Helen; 
you  ought  to  stay  home  more. 

Helen:  If  it  hadn't  been  for  Gilda,  I  don't  know  what 
I'd  have  done  all  winter. 

Henry:  If  it  hadn't  been  for  us,  I  don't  know  what 
she'd  have  done  all  winter!  You  could  have  fixed  our 
apartment  just  as  well  as  she  did.  What  do  we  want 
with  all  that  Spanish  junk? 

.      \I09\ 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Helen:  It  isn't  junk;  it's  beautiful!  She's  got  the 
most  wonderful  taste,  everybody  knows  she  has. 

Henry:  It's  a  racket,  Helen!  The  whole  thing  is  a 
racket. 

Helen:  I  don't  know  what's  the  matter  with  you  to- 
night. 

Henry:  The  evening's  been  a  flop.  The  opera  was 
lousy,  and  now  we've  been  dragged  up  here  instead  of 
going  to  the  Casino.  Just  because  Gilda's  sniffed  a  bit  of 
business. 

There  is  a  ring  at  the  door  bell. 

Helen:  Do  you  really  think  she  only  got  Grace  up 
here  to  sell  her  something? 

Henry:  I  do. 

Helen:  Oh,  Henry! 

Henry:  Don't  you? 

Helen:  No,  of  course  I  don't.  They've  got  a  lot  of 
money;  they  don't  need  to  go  on  like  that.  v 

Henry:  That's  how  they  made  the  money.  Ernest's 
been  palming  off  pictures  on  people  for  years. 

Helen:  I  don't  see  why  he  shouldn't,  if  they're  willing 
to  buy  them.    After  all,  everybody  sells  something;  I 

mean 

The  door  bell  rings  again. 

Henry  :  Don't  they  keep  any  servants? 

Helen:  I  expect  they've  gone  to  bed. 

Henry:  I'd  better  answer  the  door,  I  suppose. 

Helen:  Yes,  I  think  you  had. 

Henry  goes  of.  Helen  does  up  her  face.  There 
is  the  sound  of  voices  in  the  hall.  Henry  reenters, 
followed  by  Otto  and  Leo,  both  attired  in  very  faultless 
evening  dress. 

[no] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  t 

Henry:  Mrs.  Friedman's  upstairs — I'll  call  her. 

Leo:  No,  don't  trouble  to  do  that;  she'll  be  down 
soon,  won't  she? 

Henry:  Yes,  she's  only  showing  Mrs.  Torrence  over 
the  apartment. 

Otto:  Torrence — Torrence!  How  very  odd!  I  won- 
der if  that's  the  same  Mrs.  Torrence  we  met  in  the 
Yoshiwara? 

Leo  :  Very  possibly. 

Henry:  This  is  my  wife,  Mrs.  Carver.  I'm  afraid  I 
don't  know  your  names. 

Leo:  My  name  is  Mercure. 

Helen  (shaking  hands) :  How  do  you  do,  Mr.  Mercure? 

Otto  :  And  mine  is  Sylvus. 

Helen  (shaking  hands  again):  How  do  you  do,  Mr. 
Sylvus? 

Leo  (turning  abruptly  to  Henry  and  shaking  his  hand) : 
How  do  you  do,  Mr.  Carver? 

Otto  (doing  the  same  with  some  violence) :  How  do  you 
do,  Mr.  Carver? 

Henry:  Would  you  care  for  a  drink? 

Leo:  Passionately. 

Henry  (coldly) :  They're  over  there.    Help  yourself. 

Helen  (while  they  are  helping  themselves) :  Are  you  old 
friends  of  Mrs.  Friedman's? 

Otto  (over  his  shoulder):  Yes,  we  lived  with  her  for 
years. 

Helen  (gasping  slightly):  Oh! 

There  is  silence  for  a  moment.    Otto  and  Leo 
settle  themselves  comfortably  in  chairs. 

Leo  (raising  his  glass) :  Here's  to  you,  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Carver. 

[in] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Otto  (also  raising  his  glass) :  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Carver. 

Henry  (automatically  raising  his  glass):  Here's 
luck! 

There  is  another  silence. 

Leo  (conversationally):  I  once  knew  a  man  called 
Carver  in  Sumatra. 

Helen:  Really? 

Leo  :  He  had  one  of  the  longest  beards  I've  ever  seen. 

Otto  (quickly) :  That  was  Mr.  Eidelbaum. 

Leo:  So  it  was!    How  stupid  of  me. 

Otto  (apologetically):  We've  travelled  so  much,  you 
know,  we  sometimes  get  a  little  muddled. 

Helen  (weakly) :  Yes,  I  expect  you  do. 

Leo  :  Have  you  been  married  long? 

Henry:  Two  years. 

Leo  :  Oh  dear  Oh  dear  Oh  dear  Oh  dear  Oh  dear. 

Henry:  Why?    What  of  it? 

Otto  :  There's  something  strangely  and  deeply  moving 
about  young  love,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Carver. 

Leo  :  Youth  at  the  helm. 

Otto:  Guiding  the  little  fragile  barque  of  happiness 
down  the  river  of  life.  Unthinking,  unknowing,  unaware 
of  the  perils  that  lie  in  wait  for  you,  the  sudden  tempests, 
the  sharp  jagged  rocks  beneath  the  surface.  Are  you 
never  afraid? 

Henry:  I  don't  see  anything  to  be  afraid  of. 

Leo  (fondly) :  Foolish  headstrong  boy. 

Otto  :  Have  you  any  children? 

Henry  (sharply) :  No,  we  have  not. 

Leo  :  That's  what's  wrong  with  this  century.  If  you 
were  living  in  Renaissance  Italy  you'd  have  been  married 
at  fourteen  and  by  now  you'd  have  masses  of  children 

[112] 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FORGIVING  Scene  i 

and    they'd   be    fashioning    things    of   great    beauty. 
Wouldn't  they,  Otto? 

Otto:  Yes,  Leo,  they  would. 

Leo:  There  you  are,  you  see! 

Otto:  The  tragedy  of  the  whole  situation  lies  in  the 
fact  that  you  don't  care,  you  don't  care  a  fig,  do  you? 

Helen  {stiffly):  I  really  don't  understand  what  you 
mean.  .,,,,.,-t- 

Conversation  again  languishes. 

Leo:  You've  been  to  Chuquicamata,  I  suppose? 

Henry:  Where? 

Leo:  Chuquicamata.    It's  a  copper  mine  in  Chile. 

Henry:  No,  we  haven't.    Why? 

Leo  (loftily):  It  doesn't  matter.    It's  most  unimpor- 
tant. 

Henry:  Why  do  you  ask? 

Leo   (magnanimously):  Please  don't  say  any  more 
about  it — it's  perfectly  all  right. 

Henry  (with  irritation) :  What  are  you  talking  about? 

Leo:  Chuquicamata. 

Otto  (gently) :  A  copper  mine  in  Chile. 

Helen  (to  relieve  the  tension) :  It's  a  very  funny  name. 
She  giggles  nervously. 

Leo  (coldly) :  Do  you  think  so? 

Helen  (persevering):  Is  it — is  it  an  interesting  place? 

Leo:  I  really^ don't  remember;  I  haven't  been  there 
since  I  was  two. 

Otto:  I've  never  been  there  at  all. 

Helen  (subsiding):  Oh! 

Leo  (after  another  pause):  Is  Mrs.  Torrence  a  nice 
woman? 

Henry:  Nice!    Yes,  very  nice. 

[113] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo  (with  a  sigh  of  relief) :  I'm  so  glad. 
Otto:  One  can't  be  too  careful,  you  know — people  are 
so  deceptive. 

Leo  (grandiloquently):  It's  all  a  question  of  masks, 
really;  brittle,  painted  masks.  We  all  wear  them  as  a 
form  of  protection;  modern  life  forces  us  to.  We  must 
have  some  means  of  shielding  our  timid,  shrinking  souls 
from  the  glare  of  civilization. 

Otto:  Be  careful,  Leo.    Remember  how  you  upset 
yourself  in  Mombasa! 
Leo:  That  was  fish. 

Helen    and   Henry   exchange   startled   glances. 

Gilda  and  Grace  reappear  through  the  archway  and 

come  down  the  stairs.    Otto  and  Leo  and  Henry 

rise  to  their  feet. 

Gilda  (as  they  come  down) :  .    .    .    and  the  terrace  is 

lovely  in  the  summer,  because,  as  it  goes  right  round, 

there's  always  somewhere  cool  to  sit 

She  reaches  the  foot  of  the  stairs  and  sees  Otto  and 
Leo.    She  puts  her  hand  onto  the  balustrade  just  for  a 
second,  to  steady  herself;  then  she  speaks.    Her  voice  is 
perfectly  calm. 
Gilda:  Hallo! 
Leo:  Hallo,  Gilda. 
Otto  :  We've  come  back. 

Gilda  (well  under  control) :  Yes — yes,  I  see  you  have. 
This  is  Mrs.  Torrence.  Grace,  these  are  two  old  friends 
of  mine — Leo  Mercure  and  Otto  Sylvus. 

Grace  (shaking  hands) :  Oh — how  do  you  do. 
Leo  (shaking  hands) :  You  must  forgive  our  clothes  but 
we've  only  just  come  off  a  freight  boat. 
Otto:  A  Dutch  freight  boat.    The  food  was  delicious. 

[114] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  I  see  you  both  have  drinks.  Henry,  mix  me 
one,  will  you? 

Henry:  Certainly. 

Gilda  (in  an  empty  voice) :  This  is  the  most  delightful 
surprise.  (To  Grace):  Do  you  know,  I  haven't  seen 
either  of  them  for  nearly  two  years. 

Grace:  Gilda  hds  been  snowing  me  this  perfectly 
glorious  apartment.    Don't  you  think  it's  lovely? 

Otto  (looking  around):  Artistically  too  careful,  but 
professionally  superb. 

Gilda  (laughing  lightly):  Behave  yourself,  Otto! 

Leo:  Where's  darling  little  Ernest? 

Gilda:  Chicago. 

Henry:  Here's  your  drink,  Gilda. 
He  hands  it  to  her. 

Gilda:  Thank  you. 

Grace  (sinking  into  a  chair) :  Where  did  you  come  from 
on  your  freight  boat,  Mr.  Mercure? 

Leo:  Manila. 

Otto:  It  was  very  hot  in  Manila. 

Leo:  It  was  also  very  hot  in  Singapore. 

Gilda  (drily) :  It  always  is,  I  believe. 

Otto:  It  was  cooler  in  Hong  Kong;  and  in  Vladivostok 
it  was  downright  cold! 

Leo:  We  had  to  wear  mittens. 

]Eelen:  Was  all  this  a  pleasure  trip? 

Leo:  Life  is  a  pleasure  trip,  Mrs.  Carver;  a  Cheap 
Excursion. 

Otto:  That  was  very  beautifully  put,  Leo.  I  shall 
always  remember  it. 

Henry  and  Helen's  faces  set  in  disapproval. 
Grace  looks  slightly  bewildered. 

[«5l 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Grace  (with  a  little  social  laugh):  Well,  life  certainly 
hasn't  been  a  cheap  excursion  for  me!  Every  day  it  gets 
more  and  more  expensive.  Everyone  here  has  had  the 
most  dreadful  winter.  I  was  in  Europe,  of  course,  but 
they  were  feeling  it  there,  too,  very  badly.  Paris,  par- 
ticularly. Paris  seemed  to  have  lost  its  vitality;  it  used 
to  be  much  more  gay,  somehow 

Otto  :  I  once  had  a  flat  in  Paris.  It  was  really  more  a 
studio  than  a  flat,  but  I  had  to  leave  it. 

Grace:  They  pulled  it  down,  I  suppose.  They're 
pulling  down  everything  in  Paris,  now. 

Otto:  They  pulled  it  down  to  the  ground;  it  was  a 
small  edifice  and  crumbled  easily. 

Grace:  It's  sad,  isn't  it,  to  think  of  places  where  one 
has  lived  not  being  there  any  more? 

Leo:  I  remember  a  friend  of  mine  called  Mrs.  Purdy 
being  very  upset  once  when  her  house  in  Dorset  fell  into 
the  sea. 

Grace  (startled):  How  terrible! 

Leo:  Fortunately  Mr.  Purdy  happened  to  be  in  it  at 
the  time. 
^^Otto:  In  my  case,  of  course,  it  was  more  like  an  earth- 
quake than  anything  else,  a  small  but  thorough  earth- 
quake with  the  room  trembling  and  the  chandelier  swing- 
ing and  the  ground  opening  at  my  feet. 

Grace:  Funny.  We  were  talking  about  earthquakes 
just  now. 

Leo:  I've  never  been  able  to  understand  why  the 
Japanese  are  such  a  cheerful  race.  All  that  hissing  and 
grinning  on  the  brink  of  destruction. 

Otto:  The  Japanese  don't  mind  destruction  a  bit; 
they  like  it,  it's  part  of  their  upbringing.    They're 

urn 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

delighted  with  death.    Look  at  the  way  they  kill  them- 
selves on  the  most  whimsical  of  pretexts. 

Leo:  I  always  thought  Madame  Butterfly  was  over- 
hasty. 

Otto:  She  should  have  gone  out  into  the  world  and 
achieved  an  austere  independence.    Just  like  you,  Gilda. 

Gilda:  Don't  talk  nonsense.  (To  Grace):  They 
both  talk  the  most  absurd  nonsense;  they  always  have, 
ever  since  I've  known  them.  You  mustn't  pay  any 
attention  to  them.  y 

Otto:  Don't  undermine  our  social  poise,  Gilda,  you — 
who  have  so  much! 

Gilda  (sharply) :  Your  social  poise  is  nonexistent. 

Leo:  We  have  a  veneer,  though;  it's  taken  us  years  to 
acquire;  don't  scratch  it  with  your  sharp  witty  nails — 
darling! 

Everybody  jumps  slightly  at  the  word  "darling." 

Gilda:  Have  you  written  any  new  plays,  Leo?  Have 
you  painted  any  new  pictures,  Otto?  You  must  both 
come  to  lunch  one  day  and  tell  me  all  about  yourselves. 

Leo:  That  would  be  delightful.    Just  the  three  of  us. 

Otto:  Should  old  acquaintance  be  forgot. 

Leo  :  Close  harmony. 

Gilda:  You'll  have  to  forgive  me  if  I'm  not  quite  as 
helpful  to  you  as  I  used  to  be.  My  critical  faculties 
aren't  as  strong  as  they  once  were.  I've  grown  away, 
you  see. 

Leo:  How  far  have  you  grown  away,  my  dear  love? 
How  lonely  are  you  in  your  little  box  so  high  above  the 
arena?  Don't  you  ever  feel  that  you  want  to  come  down 
in  the  cheap  seats  again,  nearer  to  the  blood  and  the 
sand  and  the  warm  smells,  nearer  to  Life  and  Death? 

t«7l 


Act  ni  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Gilda:  You've  changed,  Leo.  You  used  to  be  more 
subtle. 

Otto:  You've  changed,  too,  but  we  expected  that. 

Helen  (social  poise  well  to  the  fore) :  It's  funny  how 
people  alter;  only  the  other  day  in  the  Colony  a  boy  that 
I  used  to  know  when  he  was  at  Yale  walked  up  to  my 
table,  and  I  didn't  recognize  him! 

Leo:  Just  fancy! 

Otto:  Do  you  know,  I  have  an  excellent  memory  for 
names,  but  I  cannot  for  the  life  of  me  remember  faces. 
Sometimes  I  look  at  Leo  suddenly  and  haven't  the  faint- 
est idea  who  he  is. 

Leo  (quickly):  I  can  remember  things,  though,  very 
clearly,  and  past  conversations  and  small  trivial  incidents. 
Some  trick  of  the  light,  some  slight  movement,  can  cause 
a  whole  flock  of  irrelevant  memories  to  tumble  into  my 
mind — just  unattached  fragments,  which  might  have 
been  significant  once  but  which  don't  seem  to  mean  any- 
thing any  more.  Trees  in  a  quiet  London  square,  for 
instance — a  green  evening  dress,  with  earrings  to  match — 
two  notes  propped  up  against  a  brandy  bottle — odd, 
isn't  it? 

Gilda:  Not  particularly  odd.  The  usual  litter  of  an 
oversentimental  mind. 

Otto:  Be  careful,  Gilda.    An  ugly  brawl  is  imminent. 

Gilda:  I'm  not  afraid. 

Otto:  That's  brave,  when  you  have  so  much  to  lose. 
He  glances  comprehensively  round  the  room. 

Gilda  (quietly) :  Is  that  a  threat? 

Otto:  We've  come  back.  That  should  be  threat 
enough! 

Gilda    (rising,   with   a  strange  smile):  There   now! 

[118] 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

That's  what  happens  when  ghosts  get  into  the  house. 
They  try  to  frighten  you  with  their  beckoning  fingers  and 
clanking  chains,  not  knowing  that  they're  dead  and 
unable  to  harm  you  any  more.  That's  why  one  should 
never  be  scared  of  them,  only  sorry  for  them.  Poor  little 
ghosts!  It  must  be  so  uncomfortable,  wandering 
through  empty  passages,  feeling  they're  not  wanted  very 
much. 

Leo  (to  Grace)  :  You  see,  Gilda  can  talk  nonsense  too. 

Otto  (reprovingly):  That  wasn't  nonsense,  Leo;  that 
was  a  flight  of  fancy,  tinged  with  the  macabre  and  reeking 
with  allegory — a  truly  remarkable  achievement! 

Leo:  It  certainly  requires  a  vivid  imagination  to 
describe  this  apartment  as  an  empty  passage. 

Gilda  (laughing  a  trifle  wildly):  Stop  it,  both  of  you! 
You're  behaving  abominably! 

Otto:  We're  all  behaving  abominably. 

Leo:  The  veneer  is  wearing  thin.    Even  yours,  Gilda. 

Grace:  This,  really,  is  the  most  extraordinary  con- 
versation I've  ever  heard. 

Otto:  Fascinating,  though,  don't  you  think?  Fas- 
cinating to  lift  the  roofs  a  fraction  and  look  down  into  the 
houses. 

Gilda:  Not  when  the  people  inside  know  you're  look- 
ing: not  when  they're  acting  for  you  and  strutting  about 
and  showing  off! 

Leo:  How  does  it  feel  to  be  so  secure,  Gilda?  Tell  us 
about  it? 

Gilda  (ignoring  him) :  Another  drink,  Henry? 

Henry:  No,  thanks. 

Helen  (rising) :  We  really  ought  to  be  going  now. 

Gilda:  Oh,  I'm  so  sorry! 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo:  Watch  the  smooth  wheels  going  round! 

Otto:  Reach  for  a  Murad! 

Grace  (also  rising):  I'm  going,  too,  Gilda.  Can  I 
drop  anybody? 

Henry  :  No,  thanks,  our  car's  outside. 

Grace:  Good-night,  Mr.  Mercure. 

Leo  (shaking  hands) :  Good-night. 

Grace  (shaking  hands  with  Otto)  :  Good-night.  Can  I 
drop  you  anywhere? 

Otto:  No,  thank  you;  we're  staying  a  little  longer. 

Gilda:  No!  Go  now,  Otto,  please.  Both  of  you,  go 
with  Grace.  I'm  terribly  tired;  you  can  telephone  me 
first  thing  in  the  morning. 

Leo:  We  want  to  talk  to  you. 

Gilda:  Tomorrow,  you  can  talk  to  me  tomorrow;  we 
can  all  talk  for  hours. 

Leo:  We  want  to  talk  now. 

Gilda:  I  know  you  do,  but  I  tell  you,  I'm  tired — 

dreadfully  tired.     I've  had  a  very  hard  day 

She  winks  at  them  violently. 

Otto  (grinning) :  Oh,  I  see. 

Helen  (at  the  door):  Come  on,  Henry!  Good-night, 
Gilda  darling;  it's  been  a  lovely  evening. 

She  bows  to  Otto  and  Leo,  and  goes  out.  Grace 
looks  at  Otto  and  Leo  and  Gilda,  and  then  with 
great  tact  joins  Henry  at  the  door. 

Grace  (to  Otto)  :  My  car's  there,  if  you  are  coming  now. 

Good-night,  Gilda — ring  for  the  elevator,  Henry 

She  goes  out  with  Henry. 

Gilda  (hurriedly,  in  a  whisper) :  It  was  awful  of  you  to 
behave  like  that !  Why  couldn't  you  have  waited  quietly 
until  they'd  gone? 

[120] 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  i 

Leo  {also  in  a  whisper) :  They  wouldn't  go — they  were 
going  to  stay  for  ever  and  ever  and  ever! 

Gilda  runs  over  to  her  bag,  which  is  lying  on  a  chair, 
and  takes  a  latchkey  out  of  it. 
Gilda  :  Go,  now,  both  of  you !     Go  with  Grace.    She'll 
gossip  all  over  the  town  if  you  don't.    Here's  the  key; 
come  back  in  ten  minutes. 
Otto  :  Intrigue,  eh?    A  nice  state  of  affairs. 
Leo:  Good  old  Decameron! 
Gilda  {shoving  the  key  into  his  hand) :  Go  on,  quickly ! 

Get  a  taxi  straight  back 

They  both  kiss  her  lightly  on  the  lips  and  go  out. 
Gilda  stands  still,  staring  after  them  until  she  hears 
the  door  slam.  Her  eyes  are  filled  with  tears.  She 
strides  about  the  room  in  great  agitation,  clasping  and 
unclasping  her  hands.  She  stops  in  front  of  a  table 
on  which  is  someone's  unfinished  drink.  She  drinks  it 
thoughtfully,  frowning  and  tapping  her  foot  nervously 
on  the  ground. 

Suddenly,  she  bangs  down  the  glass,  snatches  up  her 
cloak  and  bag,  switches  of  all  the  lights,  and  runs  out 
through  the  door  leading  to  the  fire  escape. 
Curtain. 


END  OF  ACT  THREE:    SCENE  I 


[121] 


ACT  THREE 
Scene  II 


ACT  THREE:  Scene  II 

The  scene  is  the  same,  and  it  is  the  next  morning. 

The  windows  are  wide  open,  and  sunlight  is  stream- 
ing into  the  room. 

As  the  curtain  rises,  Matthew  crosses  over  from  the 
servants'  quarters,  door  Left,  and  goes  into  the  hall. 
Matthew  is  black  but  comely.  He  wears  a  snow- 
white  coat  and  dark  trousers  and  is  very  smart  indeed. 

Ernest  enters  from  the  hall,  carrying  a  suitcase. 

Matthew  follows  him,  staggering  under  three  or 
four  large  canvases  in  a  wooden  crate. 

Ernest:  Put  them  down  there  for  the  moment,  Mat- 
thew, and  get  me  some  coffee. 
Matthew:  Yes,  sir. 

He  rests  the  canvases  against  the  wall. 
Ernest  {taking  of  his  hat  and  coat) :  Is  Mrs.  Friedman 
awake? 
Matthew:  She  hasn't  rung  yet,  sir. 
Ernest:  All  right.     Get  me  the  coffee  as  quickly  as 
you  can. 
Matthew:  It's  all  ready,  sir. 

He  goes  of  Left.  Ernest  wanders  out  onto  the  ter- 
race and  then  in  again.  He  picks  up  a  newspaper  of 
the  table,  glances  at  it  and  throws  it  down  again.  He  is 
obviously  irritable.  Matthew  reenters  with  a  break- 
fast tray,  which  he  places  on  a  small  table. 

[«5l 


Act  ni  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Matthew:  Perhaps  you'd  like  to  have  it  out  on  the 
terrace,  sir? 

Ernest:  No.    This'll  do. 

Matthew:  Did  you  have  a  good  trip,  sir? 

Ernest  (sitting  down  at  the  table) :  No,  I  did  not. 

Matthew:  Very  good,  sir. 

He  goes  out.  Ernest  pours  himself  some  coffee. 
While  he  is  doing  so,  Otto  and  Leo  come  down  the 
stairs.  They  are  both  wearing  Ernest's  pyjamas  and 
dressing  gowns,  which  are  considerably  small  for  them. 
Their  feet  are  bare. 

Leo  (as  they  reach  the  bottom  of  the  stairs):  Good- 
morning,  Ernest! 

Ernest  (flabbergasted) :  God  bless  my  soul! 

Otto  (kissing  him):  He  will,  Ernest.    He  couldn't 
fail  to! 

Leo  (also  kissing  him) :  Dear  little  Ernest ! 

Ernest:  Where — where  in  heaven's  name  have  you 
come  from? 

Otto:  Manila. 

Leo  (grinning) :  It  was  very  hot  in  Manila. 

Otto:  Aren't  you  pleased  to  see  us? 

Ernest:  Have  you  been  staying  here? 

Leo:  Of  course. 

Ernest:  Since  when? 

Otto:  Last  night. 

Ernest:  Where  did  you  sleep? 

Leo:  Upstairs. 

Ernest:  What!    Where's  Gilda? 

Otto:  We  don't  know.    She's  disappeared. 

Ernest:  Disappeared!    What  on  earth  do  you  mean? 

Otto:  What  I  say.    She's  disappeared. 

\I26\ 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Leo:  Disappeared!  Gone.  She  fluttered  out  into  the 
night  like  a  silly  great  owl. 

Otto:  We  arrived  when  she  was  entertaining  a  few 
smart  friends,  and  she  pressed  a  latchkey  into  our  hands 
and  told  us  to  come  back  later;  and  when  we  came  back 
later,  she  wasn't  here.  So  we  waited  a  little  while,  and 
then  we  went  to  bed. 

Leo  :  We  were  very  tired. 

Ernest:  It's  fantastic,  the  whole  thing!    Ridiculous. 

Leo  :  Do  you  think  we  could  have  some  coffee? 

Ernest:  Yes,  you  can  have  some  coffee,  if  you  want 
it. 

He  rings  a  little  bell  on  the  table  and  slams  it  down 
again  irritably. 

Otto:  I  do  hope  you're  not  going  to  be  disagreeable, 
Ernest.    After  all,  you  haven't  seen  us  for  ages. 

Ernest:  Disagreeable!  What  do  you  expect  me  to 
be?  I  arrive  home  after  twenty  hours  in  the  train  to  find 
Gilda  gone,  and  you  both  staying  in  the  house  uninvited 
and  wearing  my  pyjamas. 

Leo:  We'll  take  them  off  at  once,  if  you  like. 

Ernest:  You  won't  do  any  such  thing! 

Matthew  enters  and  stands  stricken  with  astonish- 
ment. 
Two  more  cups,  Matthew. 

Matthew:  Yes,  sir. 
He  goes  out,  staring. 

Ernest:  Had  you  warned  Gilda  that  you  were 
coming? 

Otto:  No.  We  just  arrived — it  was  a  surprise. 

Ernest  {suddenly) :  What  do  you  want? 

Leo:  Why  do  you  ask  that? 

l»7l 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Ernest:  I  want  to  know.  Why  have  you  come? 
What  do  you  want? 

Otto  :  We  want  Gilda,  of  course ! 

Ernest:  Have  you  gone  out  of  your  mind? 

Leo:  Not  at  all.  It's  quite  natural.  WeVe  always 
wanted  Gilda. 

Ernest:  Are  you  aware  that  she  is  my  wife? 

Otto  (turning  away) :  Oh,  don't  be  so  silly,  Ernest! 

Ernest:  Silly!    How  dare  you! 

Leo:  You're  a  dear  old  pet,  Ernest,  and  we're  very, 
very  fond  of  you  and  we  know  perfectly  well  that  Gilda 
could  be  married  to  you  fifty  times  and  still  not  be  your 
wife. 

Matthew  comes  in  with  two  cups. 

Matthew:  Do  you  want  some  fresh  coffee,  sir? 

Ernest  (mechanically,  staring  at  them):  No — no, 
there's  enough  here. 

Matthew  (to  Otto)  :  Can  I  get  you  some  grapefruit, 
sir?    Or  an  egg? 

Otto:  No,  thank  you. 

Matthew  (to  Leo)  :  For  you,  sir? 

Leo:  No,  thank  you. 

Ernest:  That  will  do,  Matthew. 

Matthew:  Yes,  sir. 
He  goes  out. 

Ernest:  Do  you  seriously  imagine  that  you  have  the 
slightest  right  to  walk  into  my  house  like  this  and  demand 
my  wife? 

Otto:  Do  stop  saying  "my  wife"  in  that  complacent 
way,  Ernest;  it's  absurd! 

Leo:  We  know  entirely  why  you  married  Gilda;  and  if 

[i 28] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

we'd  both  been  dead  it  would  have  been  an  exceedingly 
good  arrangement. 

Ernest:  You  are  dead,  as  far  as  she's  concerned. 

Otto:  Oh,  no,  we're  not!    We're  very  much  alive. 

Leo:  I  fear  your  marriage  is  on  the  rocks,  Ernest. 

Ernest:  This  is  one  of  the  most  superb  exhibitions  of 
brazen  impertinence  I've  ever  encountered. 

Otto:  It's  inconvenient,  I  do  see  that.  It  may  quite 
possibly  inconvenience  you  very  much. 

Leo:  But  no  more  than  that;  and  you  know  it  as  well 
as  we  do. 

Ernest  (with  admirable  control):  Aren't  you  taking 
rather  a  lot  for  granted? 

Otto:  Only  what  we  know. 

Ernest:  I  won't  lose  my  temper  with  you,  because 
that  would  be  foolish 

Otto:  And  ineffective. 

Ernest:  But  I  think  you  had  better  put  on  whatever 
clothes  you  came  in,  and  go  away.  You  can  come  back 
later,  when  you're  in  a  more  reasonable  frame  of  mind. 

Leo:  We're  in  a  perfectly  reasonable  frame  of  mind, 
Ernest.  We've  never  been  more  reasonable  in  our  lives; 
nor  more  serenely  determined. 

Ernest  (with  great  calmness) :  Now  look  here,  you  two. 
I  married  Gilda  because  she  was  alone,  and  because  for 
many,  many  years  I  have  been  deeply  attached  to  her. 
We  discussed  it  carefully  together  from  every  angle,  be- 
fore we  decided.  I  know  the  whole  circumstances 
intimately.  I  know  exactly  how  much  she  loved  you 
both;  and  also,  I'm  afraid,  exactly  how  little  you  both 
loved  her.  You  practically  ruined  her  life  between  you, 
and  you  caused  her  great  unhappiness  with  your  egotisti- 

[129] 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

cal,  casual  passions.  Now  you  can  leave  her  alone. 
She's  worked  hard  and  made  a  reputation  for  herself. 
Her  life  is  fully  occupied;  and  she  is  completely  contented. 
Leave  her  alone!  Go  away!  Go  back  to  Manila  or 
wherever  you  came  from — and  leave  her  alone! 

Leo:  Admirable,  Ernest!  Admirable,  but  not  strictly 
accurate.  We  love  her  more  than  anyone  else  in  the 
world  and  always  shall.  She  caused  us  just  as  much  un- 
happiness  in  the  past  as  we  ever  caused  her.  And  al- 
though she  may  have  worked  hard,  and  although  her  life 
is  so  fully  occupied,  she  is  far  from  being  contented.  We 
saw  her  last  night  and  we  know. 

Otto:  She  could  never  be  contented  without  us,  be- 
cause she  belongs  to  us  just  as  much  as  we  belong  to  her. 
Ernest:  She  ran  away  from  you. 
Leo:  She'll  come  back. 

The  front  door  bell  rings. 
Otto:  She  has  come  back! 

There  is  silence  while  Matthew  crosses  from  the 
servants'  door  to  the  hall. 
Leo:  Coffee!    That's  the  thing — nice,  strong  coffee! 

He  pours  some  out  for  himself. 
Otto  {doing  the  same):  Delicious! 
Ernest  (rising,  and  flinging  down  his  napkin) :  This  is 
insupportable! 

Leo:  Peculiar  and  complicated,  I  grant  you,  and  rather 
exciting,  but  not  insupportable. 

Gilda  enters,  followed  by  Matthew,  who  looks 
utterly  bewildered.  She  is  wearing  a  dark  day  coat 
and  hat  over  her  evening  dress,  and  carrying  a  brown 
paper  parcel  that  is  obviously  her  evening  cloak.  Shi 
sees  the  three  of  them  and  smiles. 

[130] 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Gilda:  I  might  have  known  it! 

Matthew:  Shall  I  take  your  parcel,  ma'am? 

Gilda:  Yes,  give  it  to  Nora,  Matthew;  it's  my  evening 
cloak. 

Matthew:  Yes,  ma'am. 

He  goes  off,  Left,  with  it;  while  Gilda  takes  of  her 
hat  and  coat  and  fluffs  out  her  hair. 

Gilda:  I  borrowed  this  coat  and  hat  from  the  tele- 
phone operator  at  the  Ritz:  remind  me  to  return  it  some 
time  this  morning,  Ernest. 

She  comes  over  and  kisses  him  absently. 
This  is  all  very  awkward,  isn't  it?    I  am  so  sorry.    The 
very  first  minute  you  get  home,  too.    It's  a  shame !     (To 
Otto  and  Leo)  :  Did  you  stay  here  all  night? 

Leo:  Yes,  we  did. 

Gilda:  I  wondered  if  you  would. 

Otto:  Why  did  you  sneak  off  like  that? 

Gilda  (coolly) :  I  should  have  thought  the  reason  was 
obvious  enough. 

Leo:  It  was  very  weak  of  you. 

Gilda:  Not  at  all.  I  wanted  time  to  think.  Give 
me  some  coffee,  Ernest — no,  don't  ring  for  another  cup; 
I'll  have  yours.  I  couldn't  bear  to  see  Matthew's  eyes 
popping  out  at  me  any  more! 

She  pours  out  some  coffee  and  sits  down  and  surveys 
the  three  of  them. 

Gilda  (blandly):  Now  then! 

Leo:  Now  then  indeed! 

Gilda:  What's  going  to  happen? 

Otto:  Social  poise  again.  Oh,  dear!  Oh,  dear,  oh,  dear! 

Gilda:  You  know  you  both  look  figures  of  fun  in  those 
pyjamas! 

U3'\ 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Ernest:  I  don't  believe  IVe  ever  been  so  acutely  irri- 
tated in  my  whole  life. 

Leo:  It  is  annoying  for  you,  Ernest,  I  do  see  that! 
I'm  so  sorry. 

Otto:  Yes,  we're  both  sorry. 

Ernest:  I  think  your  arrogance  is  insufferable.  I 
don't  know  what  to  say.  I  don't  know  what  to  do. 
I'm  very,  very  angry.  Gilda,  for  heaven's  sake,  tell 
them  to  go! 

Gilda  :  They  wouldn't.  Not  if  I  told  them  until  I  was 
black  in  the  face! 

Leo:  Quite  right. 

Otto:  Not  without  you,  we  wouldn't. 

Gilda  (smiling) :  That's  very  sweet  of  you  both. 

Leo  (looking  at  her  sharply) :  What  are  you  up  to? 

Otto:  Tell  us,  my  little  dear,  my  clever  little  dear! 
Tell  us  what  you're  up  to. 

Gilda:  What  have  you  been  saying  to  Ernest? 

Leo:  Lots  of  things. 

Ernest:  They've  been  extremely  offensive,  both  of 
them. 

Gilda:  In  what  way? 

Ernest:  I'd  rather  not  discuss  it  any  further. 

Gilda:  I  believe  you've  got  a  little  fatter,  Otto. 

Leo:  He  eats  too  much  rice. 

Gilda:  You  look  very  well,  though. 

Otto  (raising  his  eyebrows  slightly) :  Thank  you. 

Gilda:  So  do  you,  Leo.  The  line  in  between  your 
eyes  is  deeper,  but  you  seem  very  healthy. 

Leo  :  I  am. 

Gilda:  You  were  always  very  strong,  constitutionally. 
Strong  as  an  ox!    Do  you  remember  that,  Ernest? 

[132] 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Ernest  (irritably):  What? 

Gilda  (smiling) :  Nothing.    It  doesn't  matter. 

Leo  :  Stop  pulling  our  ears  and  stroking  us,  Gilda,  and 
tell  us  your  secret.  Tell  us  why  you're  so  strange  and 
quiet — tell  us  what  you're  up  to. 

Gilda:  Don't  you  know?    I've  given  in! 

Leo  (quickly):  What! 

Gilda  (quietly  and  very  distinctly) :  I've  given  in.  I've 
thrown  my  hand  in!    The  game's  over. 

Ernest:  Gilda!    What  do  you  mean? 

Gilda:  What  I  say. 

Ernest  :  You  mean — you  can't  mean  that 

Gilda  (gently):  I  mean  I'm  going  away  from  you, 
Ernest.  Some  things  are  too  strong  to  fight  against;  I've 
been  fighting  for  two  years  and  it's  no  use.  I'm  bored 
with  the  battle,  sick  to  death  of  it!    So  I've  given  in. 

Ernest  :  You're — you're  insane !  You  can't  be  serious. 

Gilda:  I'm  not  serious!  That's  what's  so  dreadful. 
I  feel  I  ought  to  be  but  I'm  not — my  heartfs  bobbing  up 
and  down  inside  me  like  a  parrot  in  a  cage !   It's  shameful, 

I  know,  but  I  can't  help  it (She  suddenly  turns  on 

Otto  and  Leo):  And  you  two — you  two  sitting  there 
with  the  light  of  triumph  in  your  eyes! — Say  something, 
can't  you!  Say  something,  for  God's  sake,  before  I  slap 
your  smug  little  faces ! 

Leo  :  I  knew  it.    I  knew  it  last  night ! 

Otto:  We  both  knew  it!  We  laughed  ourselves  to 
sleep. 

Ernest:  Gilda,  pull  yourself  together!  Don't  be  a 
fool — pull  yourself  together! 

Gilda:  Don't  get  excited,  Ernest.  It  doesn't  matter 
to  you  as  much  as  all  that,  you  know. 

U33] 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

Ernest:  You're  crazy!    You're  stark  staring  mad! 

Gilda  {ecstatically):  I  am,  I  am!  I'm  mad  with  joy! 
I'm  mad  with  relief !  I  thought  they  really  had  forgotten 
me;  that  they  really  were  free  of  me.  I  thought  that 
they  were  never  coming  back,  that  I  should  never  see 
them  again;  that  my  heart  would  be  heavy  and  sick  and 
lonely  for  them  until  I  died! 

Leo:  Serve  you  right  for  leaving  us!  Serve  you  damn 
well  right ! 

Gilda:  Be  quiet!  Shut  your  trap,  my  darling!  I've 
got  to  explain  to  Ernest. 

Ernest:  I  don't  want  to  hear  your  explanations.  I 
don't  want  to  hear  any  more 

Otto:  Try  and  stop  her,  that's  all!  Just  try  and  stop 
her!  She's  off,  she's  embarked  on  a  scene.  Oh,  dear 
love,  this  is  highly  delectable!  The  old  girl's  on  the  war 
path! 

Gilda:  Be  quiet,  I  tell  you!  Don't  crow!  Don't  be 
so  mean. 

Ernest:  I  don't  want  to  hear  any  more,  I  tell  you! 

Gilda:  You've  got  to.  You  must!  There's  so  much 
I  have  to  say.  You  must  listen.  In  fairness  to  yourself 
and  to  all  of  us,  you  must  listen. 

Ernest:  You're  being  unbelievably  vulgar!  I'm 
ashamed  of  you. 

Gilda:  I'm  ashamed  of  many  things,  but  not  of  this! 
This  is  real.  I've  made  use  of  you,  Ernest,  and  I'm 
ashamed  of  that,  and  I've  lied  to  you.  I'm  ashamed  of 
that,  too;  but  at  least  I  didn't  know  it:  I  was  too  busy 
lying  to  myself  at  the  same  time.  I  took  refuge  in  your 
gentle,  kind  friendship,  and  tried  to  pretend  to  myself 
that  it  was  enough,  but  it  wasn't.    I've  talked  and 

[134] 


Act  hi  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

laughed  and  entertained  your  friends;  I've  been  excellent 
company  and  very  efficient.  I've  worked  hard  and 
bought  things  and  sold  things,  all  the  time  pretending 
that  my  longing  for  these  two  was  fading !  But  it  wasn't. 
They  came  back  last  night,  looking  very  sleek  and  sly  in 
their  newly  pressed  suits,  and  the  moment  I  saw  them,  I 
knew;  I  knew  it  was  no  good  pretending  any  more.  I 
fought  against  it,  honestly  I  did !  I  ran  away  from  them, 
and  walked  about  the  streets  and  sat  in  Childs  weeping 
into  glasses  of  milk.  Oh,  Ernest,  you've  understood  such 
a  lot,  understand  just  this  much  more,  and  try  to  forgive 
me — because  I  can't  possibly  live  without  them,  and 
that's  that! 

Ernest  (with  icy  calm) :  I  gather  that  the  fact  that  I'm 
your  husband  is  not  of  the  faintest  importance  to  you? 

Gilda:  It's  never  been  anything  more  than  a  com- 
fortable sort  of  arrangement,  has  it? 

Ernest:  Apparently  not  as  comfortable  as  I  imagined. 

Gilda:  Exquisitely  comfortable,  Ernest,  and  easy- 
going and  very,  very  nice;  but  those  things  don't  count  in 
a  situation  like  this,  you  must  see  that! 

Ernest:  I  see  a  ruthless  egotism,  an  utter  disregard 
for  anyone's  feelings  but  your  own.  That's  all  I  can  see 
at  the  moment. 

Leo:  You  should  see  more,  Ernest,  you  really  should. 
The  years  that  you've  known  us  should  have  taught  you 
that  it's  no  use  trying  to  make  any  one  of  us  toe  the  line 
for  long. 

Ernest:  Gilda  is  different  from  you  two,  she  always 
has  been. 

Gilda:  Not  different  enough. 

Ernest:  You  let  her  down  utterly.    You  threw  away 

l'3S\ 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

everything  she  gave  you.  It  was  painful  to  watch  her 
writhing  in  the  throes  of  her  own  foolish  love  for  you.  I 
used  to  love  you  both  too.  You  were  young  and  gay, 
and  your  assurance  wasn't  set  and  unbecoming  as  it  is 
now.  But  I  don't  love  you  any  more.  I'm  not  even 
fond  of  you.  You  set  every  instinct  that  I  have  on 
edge.  You  offend  my  taste.  When  Gilda  escaped  from 
you  I  tried  to  make  her  happy  and  contented,  quietly, 
without  fuss. 

Otto:  She  could  never  be  happy  without  fuss.  She 
revels  in  it. 

Ernest:  Superficially,  perhaps,  but  not  really.  Not 
deep  down  in  her  heart. 

Leo:  What  do  you  know  of  her  heart? 

Gilda:  Cruel  little  cat. 

Otto:  Shut  up! 

Leo:  She's  chosen  to  come  back  to  us.  She  just  said 
so.    How  do  you  account  for  that? 

Ernest:  The  sight  of  you  has  revived  her  old  idiotic 
infatuation  for  you,  but  only  for  a  little.  It  won't  last. 
She  knows  too  much  now  to  be  taken  in  by  you  again. 

Gilda:  You're  wrong,  Ernest.    You're  wrong. 

Ernest:  Your  lack  of  balance  verges  on  insanity. 

Otto  :  Do  you  know  that  was  downright  rude ! 

Gilda:  Why  go  on  talking?  Talking  isn't  any  good. 
Look  at  me,  Ernest.  Look  at  me !  Can't  you  see  what's 
happened? 

Ernest:  You're  a  mad  woman  again. 

Gilda:  Why  shouldn't  I  be  a  mad  woman?  I've  been 
sane  and  still  for  two  years.  You  were  deceived  by  my 
dead  behaviour  because  you  wanted  to  be.  It's  silly  to 
go  on  saying  to  yourself  that  I'm  different  from  Otto 

1136] 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

and  Leo  just  because  you  want  to  believe  it.  I'm  not 
different  from  them.  We're  all  of  a  piece,  the  three  of  us. 
Those  early  years  made  us  so.  From  now  on  we  shall 
have  to  live  and  die  our  own  way.  No  one  else's  way  is 
any  good,  we  don't  fit. 

Ernest:  No,  you  don't,  you  don't  and  you  never  will. 
Your  values  are  false  and  distorted. 

Gilda:  Only  from  your  point  of  view. 

Ernest:  From  the  point  of  view  of  anyone  who  has 
the  slightest  sense  of  decency. 

Leo:  We  have  our  own  decencies.  We  have  our 
own  ethics.  Our  lives  are  a  different  shape  from  yours. 
Wave  us  good-bye,  Little  Ernest,  we're  together  again. 

Gilda:  Ernest,  Ernest,  be  friendly.  It  can't  hurt  you 
much. 

Ernest:  Not  any  more.  I've  wasted  too  much 
friendship  on  all  of  you,  you're  not  worth  it. 

Otto:  There's  a  lot  of  vanity  in  your  anger,  Ernest, 
which  isn't  really  worthy  of  your  intelligence. 

Ernest  {turning  on  him) :  Don't  speak  to  me,  please ! 

Leo:  Otto's  perfectly  right.  This  behaviour  isn't 
worthy  of  your  intelligence.  If  you  were  twisted  up  in- 
side and  really  unhappy  it  would  be  different;  but  you're 
not,  you're  no  more  than  offended  and  resentful  that 
your  smooth  habits  should  be  tampered  with 

Ernest  (losing  control):  Hold  your  tongue! — I've  had 
too  much  of  your  effrontery  already! 

Gilda  (peaceably) :  Once  and  for  all,  Ernest,  don't  be 
bitter  and  so  dreadfully  outraged!  Please,  please  calm 
down  and  you'll  find  it  much  easier  to  understand. 

Ernest:  You  overrate  my  capacity  for  understanding! 
I  don't  understand;  the  whole  situation  is  revolting  to  me. 

US7\ 


Act  in  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

I  never  shall  understand;  I  never  could  understand  this 
disgusting  three-sided  erotic  hotch-potch ! 

Gilda:  Ernest! 

Leo:  Why,  good  heavens!  King  Solomon  had  a 
hundred  wives  and  was  thought  very  highly  of.  I  can't 
see  why  Gilda  shouldn't  be  allowed  a  couple  of  gentlemen 
friends. 

Ernest  (furiously) :  Your  ill-timed  flippancy  is  only  in 
keeping  with  the  rest  of  your  execrable  taste! 

Otto:  Certain  emotions  transcend  even  taste,  Ernest. 
Take  anger,  for  example.  Look  what  anger's  doing  to 
you!    You're  blowing  yourself  out  like  a  frog! 

Ernest  (beside  himself):  Be  quiet!    Be  quiet! 

Leo  (violently):  Why  should  we  be  quiet!  You're 
making  enough  row  to  blast  the  roof  off !  Why  should  you 
have  the  monopoly  of  noise?  Why  should  your  pompous 
moral  pretensions  be  allowed  to  hurtle  across  the  city 
without  any  competition?  We've  all  got  lungs;  let's  use 
them!    Let's  shriek  like  mad!    Let's  enjoy  ourselves! 

Gilda  (beginning  to  laugh):  Stop  it,  Leo!  I  implore 
you! — This  is  ludicrous!    Stop  it — stop  it 

Ernest  (in  a  frenzy):  It  is  ludicrous!  It's  ludicrous 
to  think  that  I  was  ever  taken  in  by  any  of  you — that  I 
ever  mistook  you  for  anything  but  the  unscrupulous, 
worthless  degenerates  that  you  are !  There  isn't  a  decent 
instinct  among  the  lot  of  you.  You're  shifty  and  irre- 
sponsible and  abominable,  and  I  don't  wish  to  set  eyes  on 
you  again — as  long  as  I  live!  Never!  Do  you  hear  me? 
Never — never — never ! 

He  stamps  out  of  the  room,  quite  beside  himself  with 
fury;  on  his  way  into  the  hall  he  falls  over  the  package  of 
canvases. 

1  &] 


Act  m  DESIGN  FOR  LIVING  Scene  2 

This  is  too  much  for  Gilda  and  Otto  and  Leo;  they 
break  down  utterly  and  roar  with  laughter.  They  groan 
and  weep  with  laughter;  their  laughter  is  still  echoing 
from  the  walls  as — 


the  curtain  falls 


{139] 


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